A bipartisan group of Georgia legislators took to the House well this morning to condemn the statements of Georgia Mission Board lobbyist Mike Griffin in a blog post in the Christian Index. Before being edited, the post stated that:
We must not let the government do to us what Hitler did to the pastors and churches of his day. He got them to accept his protection from government action if they would agree to stay out of government. He basically said, you take care of the church and leave government to me.
Rep. Trey Kelley of Cedartown was the first to speak, saying he was ashammed of Griffin, and asking him to apologize to every member of the legislature for his comparison of the legislature to Hitler. Other legislators, including Dominick LaRiccia, Mandi Ballinger, and Terry England continued the complaints against Griffin, which one long-time third floor lobbyist said was the longest the House had ever gone in referencing a lobbyist from the House floor.
Speaking to reporters as the House started a lunch break, Speaker Ralston said he began hearing about the post late last night when he received calls from lawmakers. The Speaker said he was sickened by the remarks, and indicated that the incident makes it more difficult to come up with a solution on the religious liberty debate.
The whole debate on this issue has gotten out of hand. I think his comments and what he said were beyond the pale. I think it’s despicable. I think it’s deplorable. On behalf of the House of Representatives, I was extremely sickened that someone would compare this legislative body to Hitler and Hitler’s Germany.
I think this should reinforce the point I’ve been making all along that we should be civil. We need to be reasonable in our discussions. What I would suggest that Mr. Griffin tell his readers is that maybe they need to listen to their preachers and read their bibles more and listen to talk radio less.
For his part, Griffin said that his post was a call to pastors for their help in alerting their congregations to the religious liberty issue, and that the reaction by the House members was overblown. Griffin says he stands on the statement regarding the historical accuracy of the context of the church in Germany, which he said was the only group specifically mentioned in the article. When Griffin was told that Rep. Kelley had asked for an apology, Griffin said that none was due since the context of the article was misinterpreted by the legislators.
Update: Here are the morning orders delivered by the State House Reps objecting to the article by Mike Griffin in the Christian Index: