When the state chairman of a major political party suggests that 400,000 Christians will make a difference in an election because they have been given “the POWER and the AUTHORITY of the NAME OF JESUS!” it’s bound to get a little attention.

A letter written by Jonah Kaauwai, who heads Hawaii’s GOP, did more than raise eyebrows; it’s been picked up nationally since local media began reporting on it earlier this week.

But Kaauwai, the top Republican in the state (Gov. Linda Lingle) and the national Republican National Committee aren’t returning phone calls, at least from Civil Beat. It might make you wonder whether they’re staying silent because they wish the controversy would just go away, except that Kaauwai isn’t staying totally silent. In an interview with KITV, he said the letter had been successful.

Among other things, Kaauwai wrote that Mufi Hannemann‘s campaign was trying to persuade local Christians to vote for the Democrat in the Sept. 18 primary instead of Republican Duke Aiona, who is not in nearly as competitive a race.

Kaauwai questions “MUFI HANNEMANN’S FRUIT,” by which he means the Bible’s Galatians 5:22 which “tells us the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Has anyone seen that kind of fruit through Mufi Hannemann? Ask (Hannemann supporter Ken Wong) why he endorses a man whose fruit shows no signs of righteousness or being controlled by the Holy Spirit. At many levels, Mufi is worse than Neil. Mufi’s fruits are highlighted below.”

Kaauwai did not highlight the fruit of Hannemann’s primary opponent Neil Abercrombie.

But he makes it clear that Aiona, a Catholic, is the candidate for local Christians, not Hannemann, a member of the Mormon church:

“Duke Aiona’s Campaign for Governor is the Body of Christ’s opportunity to operate in the AUTHORITY and to be proactive. The Primary Election is the first step to bringing back a righteous leader to the highest office in this State which has not been seen since Queen Lili’uokalani.”

(This could have been awkward for Aiona, given that he’s worked for the past eight years for a governor he’s regularly praised. Lingle is Jewish.)

Kaauwai signed the letter, addressed to pastors and other Christians, as “Jonah Ka’auwai, Chairman
Hawaii Republican Party” and included his personal cell phone number.

The letter has since been picked up by media across the country. Aiona responded to the letter by issuing a statement to make clear that that Kaauwai acted of his own accord.

On Wednesday Civil Beat called Kaauwai, Lingle — a past party chair and titular leader of Hawaii’s GOP — and the Republican National Committee in Washington, D.C.

We still haven’t received a call back.

For the record, here are some of the questions we want to ask Kaauwai, Lingle and the RNC.

To Kaauwai:

1) What should non-Christians take away from your statement?
2) What should members of the Mormon church take from your treatment of Hannemann?
3) What do you believe about the separation of church and state?

To Lingle and the RNC:

1) What do you think about Kaauwai’s letter?
2) Does a letter like Kaauwai’s reflect the beliefs of the Republican Party?
3) Do you support the mingling of politics and religion?
4) Should Kaauwai apologize — or resign?

You know where to find us.

About the Author