Thursday, March 19, 2009

The Wrath of God is Coming! Beware! Rep. Tony Shipley Explains His Doomsday Message

Posted by on Thu, Mar 19, 2009 at 5:38 AM

click to enlarge Rep. Tony Shipley: 'I'm not even close to ignorant.'
  • Rep. Tony Shipley: 'I'm not even close to ignorant.'
Today dear Pith reader, we present our long-awaited interview with freshman state Rep. Tony Shipley in which we discuss Sodom and Gomorrah, the parting of the Red Sea, Noah's flood, and violent far-right nutjobs, among other examples of God's wonders. You'll recall that Shipley, R-Kingsport, surprised many in our state recently by suggesting to a children's advocate that we risk the wrath of the Lord by letting gay people adopt children. To Pith, Shipley explained that the anonymous advocate generally reported their conversation correctly on a blog. But he wished to clarify that he was not ranting and raving at the time, as some readers might have assumed. Instead, Shipley says he was perfectly reasonable and calm as he warned God might drop Tennessee into the sea for the sins of its people. After the jump, excerpts from our interview:

Q: What happened in your talk with this children's issues advocate?

Shipley: It was a very innocent and benign conversation about doing the right thing for children. She got down to that one question. The last question was a comment about gays having the right to adopt. That's where we digressed. I said, well, I believe in a traditional family.

Q: She says you said God might want to plop California into the ocean.

Shipley: The way it was presented is a little bit out of context. But the fact of the matter is that being of that way of thinking, a conservative Christian, I do believe that God punishes us for things that are against his word. I believe that with all my heart. I did tell her, and this is in reference to the calamity of Sodom and Gomorrah, the parting of the seas and all those things that happened in the Bible, that if we misbehave as a people God could place calamity on us. I did say, you know, God could punish California or anybody else, he could slide it off into the sea, if it's not doing things that comply with God's word. It was a biblical reference.

Q: What about your comment to her about seceding from the union?

Shipley: In the context of the conversation, I was saying that secular progressives are pushing the country too far. Case in point. In my email right now I get letters every day about state's rights and even secessionist commentary from various groups or other, not that I endorse either, but just that it's a fact. I told her the last time that happened that I know of in history was in 1860. You read about the unrest prior to and leading up to our Civil War. And some of these things today--taxes, the agenda that the president is putting out--there are people who are in direct contrast to that. I simply was saying that I'm hearing today the things that I studied about happening prior to the Civil War. I think we're a long way from such a calamity. God hope that nothing like that will happen, that we can peacefully solve our differences and so forth. But I do think there are stressors on our culture that can be devastating to us. How that will turn out, who knows? Maybe we'll just say, we'll take care of it in the next election. I don't know. But there's a lot of violent people on the edges of our society and amongst us that are talking odd things. I'm not one of them. I was just simply reflecting my emails. ... Things like this push people to the edge. ... I do think we have to watch those stressors. That particular subject area, I think there a lot of people who are not supportive.

Q: Gay adoption you're talking about?

Shipley: Yes. There are just a lot of people have a different opinion. Just like the lady that came here to talk to me essentially under false pretenses. She's a state employee, I guess. Now I notice she won't reveal her name publicly. Nobody's going to fire her. I find that to be a little bit disingenuous to go out and do the things and say the things that she said.

Q: But you've confirmed you said those things to her.

Shipley: I did. But the emphasis is different. The context is different and the peaceful discussion that we're having is not reflective of all the noise that's been created. It almost sounded like I was advocating secession. That's highly ignorant. I'm a Bronze Star recipient. I put my life on the line for this country. I would fight hard to keep this. I would fight hard for her to have the right to say what she said about me even though she was wrong. ... Do I appear unreasonable to you at all?

Q: Well, yes.

Shipley: Seriously? Well, I'm not, and I have a reputation around her for being reasonable.

Q: Have you been getting complaints about this?

Shipley: Not other than churches emailing me saying hang in there.

Q: You're probably hearing more support than anything else.

Shipley: Well, yeah. ... I don't think the lady that did this, I don't think she meant to be hurtful but it kind of spun out of control. ... I do think it was a mistake. She so strongly supports the well-being of children that it kind of overpowered her thought process. I applaud her efforts for children. I'm just not sure that's the solution, maybe softening adoption policies. You know, we still have Americans going overseas to adopt children. So there's no shortage of people to adopt. Maybe we need to look at our adoption laws as opposed to having a social experiment. I don't subscribe to that. ... But I'm not going to go out here because you've got a different opinion and take you and lay you out and filet you in a conservative blog. Nor am I going to do that to her.

Q: Actually, you know, this isn't a softening of the law. Under the law now, gay adoptions are allowed. In fact, the state says that if gays are banned from adopting, there will be hundreds of children who'll have to go into state custody because there aren't enough married couples who want to adopt.

Shipley: I'm not arguing that point.

Q: You seemed to be saying the opposite.

Shipley: I'm giving my personal opinion. I have a right to my personal opinion. She took a personal conversation with a personal opinion that was being exchanged by two adults and spun it out into some agenda outside this office, and it was unnecessary. But I am a Christian and I do have traditional values, as opposed to any of the alternative things. I spent 23 years in the military, and we adopted that law, what was it?

Q: Don't ask don't tell?

Shipley: And I never paid no attention to that. ... It made me appear to be ignorant and I'm not, not even close to ignorant.

Q: Do you not concede that it's a little strange to think that God's going to shove us off into the ocean if we let gays adopt children?

Shipley: No. No. Do you think the Bible is strange?

Q: In places, yes.

Shipley: OK, so there's a difference. If you take a secular progressive talking to a Christian conservative and we have different starting points. I happen to believe in the holy word of God. I believe in that. I subscribe to that way of thinking. It speaks to my internal foundations, you know. The Bible is replete with story after story after story of God's dealing with civilizations. He dealt with Israel. Walked them in the desert for 40 years as punishment for some things they should not have done. Sodom and Gomorrah, he destroyed those cities. The flood. So if you don't subscribe to the Bible and that thinking, then of course, you're going to think it sounds a little odd. I believe in divine creation. I believe in life at conception. I believe in God's hand in our world. I believe that.

Q: Well, you probably gained some votes out of this, so it's all good, right?

Shipley: Actually, I probably did. ... But in all fairness, I wanted you to understand that yeah, she generally reflected a conversation. But the gist of it was different. It was offered exactly in this position with me sitting here just as comfortably as I'm talking to you. It was a most reasonable discussion.

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