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Public Theology: Political Trouble for Lois McMahan
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Political Trouble for Lois McMahan
A state representative of the religious right speaks wrongly about Islam and finds herself in trouble with the public.

Her constituents probably were not aware of the depth of her commitment, not to their best interests, but to her beliefs as a member of the religious right. Lois McMahan represents district 26-2 of the house of representatives in the state of Washington, just north of where I live. She has been making headlines recently. In the process she embarrassed herself, her constituents, the Republican Party, and others living in the area.

She refused to participate in a prayer led by an Islamic clergyperson before the Washington State House of Representatives. She stood in the back of the room and told a reporter she was protesting her belief that Muslims had not adequately rejected the motivations for the events of 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon. The God of Islam was not her God so she would not respect prayers to other than her own God.

Her views were published in local papers and debated on radio talk shows. Republican Party officials distanced themselves from her comments saying that all Muslims cannot be accused of the 9/11 events. McMahan then apologised in public saying she was sorry if she offended the Muslim cleric.

But she was exposed for her narrow religious views, her intolerance for that which is different from her own beliefs. This is the attitude of those on the religious right; they believe they are right and the rest of the world is wrong. They are moral, and the rest of the world is immoral.

This incident occurs just as the president of this country is moving the world toward a controversial war in Iraq. Many Muslims view the war as an attack on Islam and the remarks of McMahan help support that view. Her off the cuff remarks exhibit the irresponsible way that leaders of the religious right participate in the political process, ultimately threatening the future of this country and the goal of world peace.

Lois McMahan is an elected representative associated with the religious right. Her husband is pastor of the Family Bible Church in Ollala, Washington, in Kitsap County just north of Gig Harbor and across the Narrows Bridge from Tacoma.

Members of the religious right have been advised by their political consultants not to make their religious commitments known. To determine if McMahan had done so I visited her election website.

The following statement was found on Lois McMahan's election website on 3/11/03:

This year's election is about the difference between views of life and government. It comes down to a choice between fear and faith.

Fear says we are inherently irresponsible, unable to make wise choices for our lives, families and communities, and that more government regulations and taxes are the answers.

I have faith in people and believe that a majority of them will care for their families, their environment and their communities without the big hand of government always intervening and micro-managing. We should turn first to the private sector for solutions, rather than creating new laws requiring new taxes to fund them. The best thing government can do for our economy is to protect private enterprise.

This is my view of governing and the way I made decisions for two years in the State Legislature. If you look at my voting record, you will find I kept my word and trusted the opinions and common sense of people like you.

We are taxed and regulated more than enough. Government needs to focus on its core functions: keeping our communities safe, providing our children with a solid education, building and maintaining adequate roads. The rest is up to us.

I would be honored to serve you once again, and would appreciate your vote November 5th.


Here are the issues McMahan says are most important:
  • Transportation: Ensuring transportation dollars are used efficiently
  • Budget: Responsibly balancing the state budget
  • Education: Targeting money to the classroom
  • Crime: Adults and juveniles should know that crime doesn't pay—even the first time.
So far, nothing about the religious right, no indication of her commitment against abortion and homosexuality or prayer in schools, for example, yet these are the central concerns of the religious right.

So let's visit her legislative page. On March 11, 2003, we find that she has been working primarily on legislation to keep criminals in prison. Not a word on her religious commitments. Nothing about the Christian Coalition, which lists her as supporting all of their key issues.

This incident helps me to think that it is important not only to disagree with political leaders of the religious right. It is important to work to actively expose them and their narrow-minded beliefs to the rest of the community.

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Date Added: 3/11/2003 Date Revised: 3/11/2003

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