When an Iowa woman wouldn’t go along with her pastor’s unlawful church electioneering scheme, he got pretty darn ticked off.
The Rev. Steve Youngblood of City Church in Burlington has been on a crusade to have Iowa Supreme Court Justice David Wiggins kicked out of office, and he sermonized against Wiggins on at least one occasion. (Wiggins, who faces a retention election next month, drew the ire of the Religious Right in 2009 when he voted in a unanimous decision declaring a ban on same-sex marriage in the Iowa Constitution to be unconstitutional.)
Youngblood’s activity, along with anti-Wiggins pamphlets that were available at the facility where the church meets, didn’t sit well with a woman who attends Youngblood’s church. So she spoke up. The Burlington Hawk Eye reported that a woman who attended a service on Sept. 30 told a different pastor that the pamphlets seemed like a violation of provisions in federal law that bar politicking by organizations that are tax exempt.
This anonymous woman is absolutely right, based on the news report’s description of the situation. But when Youngblood found out that someone in his church had the “audacity” to question his activities, he really lashed out.
In a misogynistic and violent sermon given Oct. 7, Youngblood was quoted in the Des Moines Register as saying “don’t call yourself a Christian” if you’re going to challenge him and he’d “like to slap” the woman who made the complaint.
Youngblood went on to say, “What makes me madder is that this person’s husband won’t correct them. I don’t like rebellious women. I don’t like rebellious men, either. They’re even worse.”
He also took some time to rail against church-state separation and Americans United, presumably because Youngblood felt he had to cover all the standard Religious Right bases. He of course conveniently ignored the words of several Founding Fathers, including Thomas Jefferson and James Madison.
“It is interesting to observe that our Founding Fathers and our first elected officials didn’t have any notion of ‘church-state separation,’ so vehemently endorsed by Americans United and other modernist groups,” he said, according to the blog “God Discussion.”
After the comments went public, the church managed to dig itself in a bit deeper by making light of Youngblood’s vile and vitriolic verbiage.
“There are things people say that they just say, not literally meaning they would slap somebody,” the Rev. David Selmon, another pastor at City Church, told the Hawk Eye. “I’ve heard people say, ‘That person needs to be shot,’ but I don't take it seriously.”
The Rev. Jane Willan, minister at Zion United Church of Christ in Burlington, believes differently. Willan has filed a complaint with the IRS and asked for an investigation of City Church, the Register reported.
Interfaith Alliance of Iowa Executive Director Connie Ryan Terrell agrees. She told the Register she has serious concerns about both Youngblood’s words and actions.
“He read from that pamphlet during the sermon and encouraged people to pick it up after church, and in my opinion that is a direct violation of the law, which prohibits houses of worship and nonprofits from endorsing candidates,” she said.
While it has become increasingly commonplace for Religious Right-aligned churches to dive into political activity, Youngblood really stands out for his advocacy of violence against women.
Youngblood didn’t just cross the line drawn by the tax code; he crossed a line of basic human decency as well. If that isn’t enough to cost his church its tax exemption, then I don’t know what is.