Your Sept. 8 editorial, "Stop using religion to divide," said: "Candidates and political leaders must speak out against it, with greater vehemence than they’ve shown so far."
The parallels between Republican Party Chairman Jonah Kaauwai, who authored the recent "Be Not Deceived" letter sent to the leaders of Hawaii’s faith-based community, and pastor Terry Jones, leader of a tiny Protestant church in Gainesville, Fla., whose campaign against "radical Islam" called for a public burning of Islam’s holy book, are frightfully similar, cut from the same cloth. They prey on and advocate growing hostility and uneasiness between those who see themselves as true believers and those who choose a moderate path between faith and political ideology.
The Hawaii GOP chairman is quoted as saying "Duke (Aiona) will win because the Church has been behind him the entire time operating in the POWER and the AUTHORITY of the NAME OF JESUS." If you didn’t know better, you’d think you were listening to Pastor Jones from Florida.
Kaauwai goes on to say, "Neither Mufi Hannemann nor Neil Abercrombie is righteous and a vote for either in the primary or general election is succumbing to fear and advancing unrighteousness!"
I cannot fathom how Kaauwai presumes to know the level of righteousness of either Abercrombie or Hannemann. As a man of faith myself, I take offense to being described as "unrighteous," "unholy" and/or "enemy" simply because I don’t subscribe to a political ideology. Spirituality, through whatever religious prism you choose is an intimate, intensely personal journey.
As a former chairman of the Democratic Party of Hawaii, I’d like to address all candidates and supporters espousing this intolerant agenda with this quote from the recent Star-Advertiser editorial: "It is possible to be true to one’s personal beliefs without allowing religious agendas to trump everything. Gov. John A. Burns, a committed Catholic, did so when he allowed the abortion legalization bill to become law without his signature."
Have the politics of fear and hatred come to roost in our fair islands? Does Kaauwai now represent the core values of the Hawaii’s Republican Party? It appears the GOP chairman intends to pit the people of Hawaii against each other in the vilest way. Unfortunately, this has been taking place all across the U.S., where people separate themselves as "us versus them," evidenced in the Quran episode in Florida.
But it’s not too late to revisit what a past Hawaii Legislature and governor enacted that essentially separates us out from the aforementioned examples.
The Aloha Spirit Law is an actual law on the books in Hawaii, encoded in the Hawaii Revised Statutes, Section 5-7.5. It elevates, empowers and ennobles its people, and keeps Hawaii the uniquely special place that it is. As a model law for the world, it can serve the greatest number for its greatest good. All citizens and government officials of Hawaii are obligated to conduct themselves in accordance with this law, while performing their duties and obligations, as well as in their day-to-day living.
By its very nature, politics will draw out different points of view. That’s reality. And obviously we won’t always see eye to eye. But how we disagree sets us apart. Tolerance and celebration of each other’s uniqueness is who we are. So let’s live peacefully and with aloha, even if we don’t agree. Can we agree on that?