Keeping the faith
According to the Culture Shield Network, a Wichita group dedicated to mobilizing the "Body of Christ as the moral conscience of society," Kansas is in need of an awakening.
"It's time to cause a revolution," says Donna Lippoldt, founder of the group. "We need to get some freedom fighters up and going to take this country back."
CSN already has political backing for its divine mission. Sen. Steve Abrams, R-Arkansas City, and Rep. Steve Brunk, R-Wichita, are members of the group's advisory board. Culture Shield also calls on Gov. Sam Brownback to assist in the revival.
On Saturday, the governor will be headlining the first stop of the Awakening Freedom Tour at Lenexa Baptist Church. Lippoldt is hoping the tour will help solidify the role of Christian faith in public life.
"He is expected to share a perspective on Kansas' spiritual heritage and encourage the audience to 'be the tip of the spear from the heart of the nation,' " Lippoldt said.
That spiritual heritage, reads the group's website, includes: "Kansas historians say that the Holy Spirit came to Topeka over 100 years ago and He wants to come again."
As the site does not cite sources, we do not know who those Kansas historians are -- or if they're the ones predicting a return.
Brownback is no stranger to the Culture Shield Network. At a prayer event organized by Lippoldt in January at the Capitol, the governor asked "people to pray for solutions to poverty, overuse of water and the struggles of people with mental illness or in prison."
We would prefer to think the state's top executive would understand the capacity to make a difference in these areas via his office. And Brownback has, although not for the better. Through his tax and entitlement policies, poverty is worsening in Kansas. Water overuse has not subsided, although he has received credit for forming a study group. Funding for mental illness research and treatment has decreased, much to health professionals' dismay. The prison system could have its previous cuts restored, although corrections officials believe much more is needed to treat mentally ill prisoners.
Rather than proactively use his office, Brownback appears to be relying on prayers from others. It's no wonder the Culture Shield Network has adopted him.
Likewise, it's no wonder so many other political leaders are abandoning him.
Last year, a group of more than 60 moderate GOP members formed the Traditional Republicans for Common Sense. The group included former Kansas Senate President Steve Morris, R-Hugoton, who said Brownback was trying to create an "ultraconservative utopia" in Kansas.
The Moderate Party of Kansas includes many of the Republicans Brownback helped defeat in the last election. It is attempting to gather enough signatures to become a recognized political party.
More recently, six of Kansas' most prominent women politicians formed a coalition called "Reroute the Roadmap." The group includes Kansas Insurance Commissioner Sandy Praeger; former Kansas Republican Party Chairwoman Rochelle Chronister; former U.S. Sen. Sheila Frahm, R-Colby; Joan Wagnon, former Kansas Democratic Party chairwoman; Jill Docking, a candidate for lieutenant governor; and state Sen. Laura Kelly, D-Topeka. These political figures all favor expanding Medicaid, something Brownback opposes. The women also don't believe the governor's decisions on school funding or tax policies are correct for Kansas.
Chronister said the women joined forces in order to elect "anyone but Brownback" in the coming election. On the other side, Lippoldt will not vote for "anyone but Brownback" when she's at the polls.
This year's gubernatorial race could be decided by how much Kansans want to solve issues on their own or place them in the hands of a higher power.
Editorial by Patrick Lowry