Welcome to the Crusades, version 2.0.
It certainly was predicted that the white-hot emotional debate on whether gays should be accorded full civil rights would engage religious conservatives.
But this primary election is developing a biblical edge, and not in a good way.
It moved out of the pews when Jonah Kaauwai, Hawaii GOP chairman and a sometime-pastor last week asked local churches to nix any appearances in their churches by former Mayor Mufi Hannemann.
"Why would the Body of Christ as the representative of God’s Kingdom here on Earth promote and validate Mufi Hannemann by allowing him to speak from the pulpit platform of your church and join in his plan of deception?" Kaauwai warned.
The plague of politics does not rest only at the feet of Hannemann, Kaauwai said. The public worker unions, by helping Hannemann, are also playing footsie with Satan.
"In the flesh, people look at that as normal political practice but through spiritual eyes, these unions’ financial support are considered to be bribes and an endorsement as an unholy oath that Mufi and other politicians take to retain their elected positions," Kaauwai warned.
The answer, according to the GOP head, is to vote for the Republican candidate for governor, James "Duke" Aiona. The lieutenant governor’s campaign is called by Kaauwai "the body of Christ’s opportunity to operate in the Authority and be proactive."
You can call Aiona a former judge, genial family man — but the "Body of Christ"? That’s a lot to put on someone who just wants to be governor.
Aiona, a Catholic who has already popped up in controversial religious issues regarding the International Transformation Network, said Kaauwai’s comments "are seen by many as divisive" and he would keep his campaign focused on all citizens.
A local Democratic political adviser noted this week: "You don’t want to mix messages in politics and religion — it is the worst thing you can do.
"You start quoting the Bible and it scares people," he added.
At the same time, Hannemann has devoted a significant part of his public life to making appearances in churches and religious forums. He has strengthened and worked to emphasis the Mayor’s Prayer and Worship Service.
A conservative consultant told me: If you consider that if you can add just a dozen conservative Christian votes in each precinct, that could be the margin of victory in a close election — so Hannemann may reap the benefits.
Other Christian organizers say the bulk of the parishioners are Aiona supporters and Hannemann will not get much help.
Meanwhile, Abercrombie is praying that voters remember him as the noncombatant in Hawaii’s religious war.