If Sarah Palin drew the lion's share of the media attention at last week's National Tea Party Convention in Nashville, William Temple, a Revolutionary War re-enactor, may be the runner-up.
He was featured on CNN, had his picture on the online version of the New York Times and the print version of the Tennessean, and was quoted by a Washington Post blog and Time magazine. He was a media darling at an event with some 20 TV cameras and news crews from a number of nations.
Temple, a retired 32-year employee with the federal government, including eight years with the Secret Service, repeated to reporters many of the same statements. What he told EthicsDaily.com has been so far unreported.
Telling media representatives that he voted for President Ronald Reagan, Temple added, "But now anything that I get from the Republic National Committee gets torn up and thrown in the trash. And I only vote for Tea Party candidates."
Temple said that Tea Party supporters wanted their taxes cut and the U.S. Constitution restored. He said Americans are living under a "soft tyranny."
"We want to eliminate the Department of Education, the Department of Labor, the Department of Energy, the Department of Agriculture, and take all the money and give that back to the states, which the Constitution says is theirs to begin with," he said. "And we're not going to allow the federal government to meddle in areas that are no longer their concern."
Dressed as a Revolutionary War patriot and speaking with a Scottish accent, Temple said, "We want no more professional politicians ... We're going to get a citizen legislature. We're going to get home-school moms and men who, and women, who served in the military and know what sacrifice is about, rather than trying to feather their nests in Washington. ... We want a citizen legislature like before."
When EthicsDaily.com asked for an interview, Temple disclosed that he was the pastor of Maranatha Church in Brunswick, Ga.
"I preach Jesus Christ and him crucified. I'm primarily a pastor for the New Testament, although I've done a series on the Book of Daniel," he said.
"Ours is a Bible church. We were Baptists but have gone to the understanding about elders – plural – as opposed to one elder in the Baptist system," said Temple. "We try not to affiliate ourselves denominationally. We want people to focus on Jesus Christ."
Pointing out that his church is a "black church," Temple said, "We go through the Scriptures verse by verse."
In a movement known for its loud, sometimes angry, anti-tax rallies, Temple acknowledged the responsibility of Christians to pay taxes.
"Christians are to pay all their taxes on time and to be an example to the rest of the country in being good and faithful payers of what they owe to the government," said the Georgia pastor. "And they are to do it with a spirit of joy and happiness and prayer. And that is the only attitude that they can have before God."
He added, "If they want to please God, they do that. And they set an example as Jesus showed us – 'Render unto Caesar's what's Caesar's.'"
When EthicsDaily.com asked Temple how he applied Jesus' teaching to whom much is given much is required to the wealthy paying taxes, he answered, "Americans – who have a lot – have the responsibility to do the right thing, but not by being compelled."
Doing the right thing for the wealthy meant individual charity – not a moral obligation for the wealthy to pay more compulsory taxes, enabling the government to provide services to low-income and disadvantaged people.
"First of all the government is not a charity. That's the province of the churches and synagogues, and that's the province between a man and his God, not to compel by force people to give and give so that they can redistribute it to other people who haven't earned it," he said.
"If you don't give from your heart, it's not what the Lord wants. And the government is not a charity. They are not to take my money. They are to do the things with the taxes that they are given that are outlined in the Constitution. And the federal government is to conduct war and they're to defend our borders, which they are not doing a very good job of," said the Brunswick pastor.
Robert Parham is executive editor of EthicsDaily.com and executive director of its parent organization, the Baptist Center for Ethics.