SPOKANE — A Republican state lawmaker from Washington is facing intense criticism for distributing a document describing how a “Holy Army” should kill people who flout “biblical law,” with some campaign donors asking for their contributions back.
State Rep. Matt Shea of Spokane Valley in conservative eastern Washington is seeking a sixth term in the state House and has been under fire since he acknowledged in a Facebook video last week that he had distributed a four-page document titled, “Biblical Basis for War” to some of his supporters.
The document condemns abortion and same-sex marriage and says how those who don’t follow biblical law should be punished, The Spokesman-Review reported. At one point, the document says, “If they do not yield, kill all males.”
Shea espouses far-right conspiracy theories, mingles with militia groups, considers the U.S. “a Christian nation” and champions a push for a 51st state called Liberty, the newspaper reported. But he represents a deeply conservative district that has elected him since 2008, in part because of his business-friendly politics.
Shea, a lawyer, has said the document was merely a summary of sermon notes based on the Old Testament and that he was not promoting violence. He did not return a message left Thursday by The Associated Press.
Critics including his Democratic opponent, Ted Cummings, and Republican Spokane County Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich have called the document a guideline for Christian domination.
It “appears to call for violence against any political leader who does not share Shea’s personal religious views,” the Freedom From Religion Foundation, a Wisconsin-based nonprofit that advocates for separation of church and state, said in a statement Thursday.
Cummings said the attention has apparently triggered a wave of small contributions to his campaign, just five days before the general election.
“I think the whole nation is watching what goes on here in the 4th (Legislative District) and whether we have the integrity and the intelligence to vote this guy out of office,” Cummings said.
Shea also is facing backlash from some of his donors. The political arm of the Northwest Credit Union Association, which represents more than 180 credit unions in Washington, Oregon and Idaho, gave $1,000 to Shea’s campaign before the August primary but recently asked the campaign to return it.
“His beliefs do not reflect the views and values of the NWCUA, our member credit unions, or the consumers who are credit union members,” Lynn Heider, the group’s vice president for public affairs, said in a statement.
The Washington Association of Realtors, which donated $2,000 to Shea’s campaign, demanded a refund and said its name should be removed from Shea’s campaign materials.
AT&T had donated money to the lawmaker but said his statements were divisive and do not reflect the company’s “core values of inclusion and equality.”
“We will not be making any future contributions to Rep. Shea’s campaign and will ask that he return the $1,000 we contributed to his campaign earlier this year,” Leland Kim, a spokesman for AT&T, said in an email.
A spokesman for Republican U.S. Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, who has Shea’s endorsement in her race against Democrat Lisa Brown, declined to comment.
Former Spokane Valley Mayor Diana Wilhite, who ran against Shea in 2008, said too many Republicans support Shea because of his business-friendly policy agenda.
“If they’re Republican, they like the way he votes. And I can’t, for the life of me, understand why they don’t look at all the other stuff he gets into,” Wilhite said. “At some point, character has to count.”