Maine Republicans attack Ben Chin’s Christian faith

Maine Republicans attack Ben Chin’s Christian faith

“On December 8th, voters in Lewiston should just say NO to this anti-Christian bigot,” wrote State Representative Lawrence Lockman, a Republican from Amherst, on his legislative Facebook page, referring to progressive mayoral candidate Ben Chin.

“Chin hates America, hates Americans, and hates Christians,” continued Lockman.

Lockman’s attacks seem to be based on an online ad paid for and distributed by the Maine Republican Party, which uses out-of-context quotes and a series of ellipses in an attempt to portray Chin as anti-Christian.

In fact, the partial quotes were taken from a sermon delivered by Chin in 2009 at Trinity Church in Lewiston in defense of Christianity and the compassion of the gospel. Far from being anti-Christian, Chin is a lay Episcopal preacher and is deeply religious.

“I’m a Christian and I’m happy to discuss my faith with anyone, particularly the role faith has in policy and public life,” said Chin in a statement. “Rep. Lockman and the Republican Party, however, seem to be more focused on twisting faith into a negative attack. I don’t mind. I’m reminded of Matthew 5:11: ‘Blessed are you when people revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account.  Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.’”

One of Rep. Lockman's Facebook posts

One of Rep. Lockman’s Facebook posts

On his campaign website, Chin describes how he came to make a difficult choice between attending seminary and becoming a community organizer.

Last month, when racist signs were erected with an Asian caricature and the slogan “Don’t vote for Ho Chi Chin,” Chin attended a rally on the streets of downtown Lewiston and led those gathered in the Prayer of Saint Francis, pardoning his attackers and rejecting hate in favor of love.

According to church regulations, the license Chin holds from the Bishop of the Episcopal Discoese of Maine certifies that he is “trained, examined, and found competent in the Holy Scriptures, the [Book of Common Prayer] and The Hymnal, the conduct of public worship, use of the voice, church history, Christian ethics and moral theology, the church’s doctrine as set forth in the creeds and An Outline of the Faith, appropriate canons, pastoral care, and homiletics.”

Lockman, who recently served as spokesperson for the unsuccessful “No on Question 1” campaign, has a history of making extreme statements. He made national news for his comment, made before he was elected to the House of Representatives, that “If a woman has [the right to an abortion], why shouldn’t a man be free to use his superior strength to force himself on a woman? At least the rapist’s pursuit of sexual freedom doesn’t [in most cases] result in anyone’s death.”

Chin faces incumbent conservative Lewiston Mayor Robert Macdonald in a runoff election on December 8th, after winning a plurality of the vote in a five-way election on November 3rd.

According to Chin’s campaign manager, Gen Lysen, the best way those who find these new attacks offensive to express their support is to make a contribution to the campaign.

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