Paul Stam and the Believers

It is important in any form of competition to know your opponent.  In sports, teams scout their opponents to assess their strengths and weaknesses.  In the law, attorneys research the skills of their adversaries to know what they are up against.  And it doesn’t stop there.

Politics is competition at its best and worst.  Getting mad at the other side is not nearly as effective as understanding the other side and then doing something with your knowledge.

Because Amendment One was pushed to passage by Paul Stam, House Republican leader, and because he is pushing for its passage on his websites, in press releases and through public appearances, I thought it might be helpful to learn a little bit about the competition, about Paul Stam.

From what I have learned, Paul Stam’s title could easily be changed to House [of worship] Republican leader.  But if anyone (like Paul Stam) says that religion and prejudice have nothing to do with why he and his fellow believers are pushing for the amendment, let me share with you my scouting report, so that you can be the judge.

First off, opponents of Amendment One need to know that Paul Stam is a formidable adversary and a good politician.  He is 61 years old. In 1968, he graduated from Eastern Christian High School, in New Jersey. He was Valedictorian and Student Body President.

Stam was in the military.  He graduated with honors in criminal justice from Michigan State University and in 1975, and then graduated from UNC law school.

He is a member of Apex Baptist Church, where his wife is a Minister of Music. One son is a graduate of Southeastern Seminary, a very conservative arm of the Southern Baptist Convention, and he is serving as Minister to Children at Apex Baptist Church.

Stam lists these Christian action affiliations on his website: (1) Christian Action League of North Carolina, Inc. Trustee 1992-1997; (2) North Carolina Christian Coalition, Advisor 1995-1997; (3) Wake County Right to Life: Vice Chairman for Legal Affairs 1983-1988 and Chairman 1980-1983; and (4)Christian Legal Society.

Stam also lists the following under church affiliation: (1) Apex Baptist Church: Bible Study Teacher (4th Grade) , former Chairman at different times of Deacons, Benevolence, Music, Refugee, Planning, and Budget Committees (2) Southern Baptist Theological Seminary: Trustee 1988-1998; Exec. Comm. 1991-1997; Chair, Doctoral Studies Comm. 1990-1997; Chair, Carver School of Church Social Work Study Comm. 1995-1996; (3) Executive Committee of the Southern Baptist Convention: Trustee 2005-2009; (4) Raleigh Baptist Association: Chairman of Constitution Committee 1982-84; Member, Plans & Programs Commission 1982-84; Constitution & By-Laws Committee 1994; and (5)North Carolina Baptist Convention: Appointed by President Greg Mathis as Parliamentarian for the 1996 and 1997 State Conventions, by President Mac Brunson for the 1999, 2000, and 2001 State Conventions, by President Mike Cummings for the 2002 and 2003 State Conventions, by President David Horton for the 2004 and 2005 State Conventions, and by President Stan Welch for the 2006 State Convention.

With all his connections to the Baptist church, the Southern Baptist hierarchy and to Apex Baptist Church in particular, I did a little more digging.  As it turns out, Apex Baptist Church has a website, and on it, the church talks a lot about marriage.

The website has several sections devoted to marriage.  The church has a “Married & More ministry” to “teach biblical principles” relating to marriage. There also is a “Tips for Marriage” section which says: “Marriage in its proper perspective is a cornerstone in the midst of the world’s civilizations, the union of a man and woman via a lifetime covenant of love, the proper setting for sexual intimacy, and God’s venue for procreation and the nurture of children. The Judeo-Christian viewpoint on matrimony believes that “he who finds a wife finds what is good” (Pro. 18:22). That is also true for the woman who finds a husband!”

Hmmm, this sounds a bit similar to the marriage amendment.

Members of Apex Baptist Church believe that: “The Bible is God’s Word to all men. It was written by human authors under the supernatural guidance of the Holy Spirit. It is the supreme source of truth for Christian beliefs and living. Because it is inspired by God, it is truth without any mixture of error. Psalm 119:105, 160; 12:6; Proverbs 30:5; 2 Timothy 1:13; 3:16; 2 Peter 1:20-21”

In other words, the truth can be found in every syllable in the Christian Bible, and the truth will set you free, unless of course, you are gay.

Beyond the church, Stam has been active in legal fights for Christian causes.  He lists a number of cases in which he participated, including for the Christian Legal Society, the North Carolina Right to Life Education Fund, North Carolina Right to Life, and protestors of abortion clinics.

One case Stam said he championed was described by him as follows: “In Pulliam v. Smith, 348 NC 616 (1998) I submitted an amicus brief to the N.C. Supreme Court on behalf of the North Carolina Family Policy Council on the question whether the judge deciding custody could consider the conduct of those actively engaging in illegal homosexual conduct in the home. On July 30, 1998, the North Carolina Supreme Court issued an opinion – generally upholding the position of NCFPC.”

In other words, Stam has this thing for “illegal homosexual conduct”, and how that might be bad for child custody.

Stam though, talks little about religion and bristles at the suggestion that Amendment One is discrimination.  He says he has been “amazed at the baseless claims by opponents”.  You can find his argument for the amendment at this link:

He says in this argument that “Legally Recognizing Only Heterosexual Marriage Isn’t Discrimination Against Homosexuals Wanting To Marry” His reasons are that: “Marriage between a man and a woman has existed in virtually every known society. It has served the purpose of channeling procreative sexual activity into an institution which will provide a stable environment for children produced from the sexual union of the partners in marriage. Recognizing that heterosexual marriage has provided the best environment for the rearing of future citizens North Carolina has regulated marriage for at least 340 years.   Same sex marriage is an entirely different relationship with a completely different purpose.”

In other words, this is not discrimination, because well, its just not.

In a Huffington Post article in August 2011, Stam made these remarks:  “What I’m saying is, you cannot construct an argument for same sex-marriage that would not also justify philosophically the legalization of polygamy and adult incest,” Stam said.

In other words, the people of this state who decide to vote in such a way not to pick on the gay community will also rise up one day to approve polygamy and adult incest.

So, do we think we know Paul Stam a little better.  Think again.

In Stam’s personal platform on his website, he says nothing about marriage. What he does say is that he “will support those which promote…Fairness to state employees..[and]…More freedom, Less government”.

Amendment One will hurt employees of municipalities who receive same sex domestic partner benefits.  And Amendment One certainly is not about freedom or less government.

But here is more head-scratching inconsistency in the man.  In March 2008, the Campbell Law Observer did an article on Stam that complimented his strengths, and of not shying away from his beliefs in his legal work or public office.  He had these very reasonable things to say:

“You shouldn’t try to impose laws on people if you wouldn’t want them to be enforced against you,”said the state representative.

“In keeping with the idea of the Golden Rule, Stam also stated that as a public person and public official, a person should “consider the rights of your opponent.” Stam related this statement to the longstanding ideal of kindness to all, including those who may be strangers.”

But one thing is for sure.  Stam is proud of this fight and he advertises it for political gain when talking about the accomplishments of the Republican party.  He says: “We spoke out against Speaker Hackney’s burial of legislation to protect traditional marriage.”

And his message is getting out.  When the Charlotte Observer ran an editorial earlier this month about the amendment, the comment boards lit up.  Take these comments, for example:

“By promoting marriage to be the exclusive union between one man and one woman, the State not only protects the rights of children but encourages the values of commitment, restraint and diversity that are needed to preserve community at large.”

“Christians are under the NEW Covenant which is faith in Jesus as our Lord, and this faith and obedience includes repentance and turning from our sins.  Sexual relationships with members of the same-sex is forbidden throughout the New Testament as well as the old. ”

“If  you knew anything about Christianity, you would know those things are not part of the new covenant that we have through faith in Jesus Christ.  Christians who believe that the Bible is the Word of God and our guide for living, will not suddenly decide that homosexual behavior is fine and the plan for Godly marriage.”

“The homosexual community wants acceptance of their sin, they don’t want to repent or turn, they want their sin to be embraced, and when Christians don’t condone their sin of homosexual behavior (nor any other sin,) then homosexuals and liberals call them “evangelical bigots,” and hateful non-Christians. Christianity means that we do our best to understand and follow the commandments of our Lord, to be obedient. It does not mean we keep sinning as usual and expect Christians to approve of their sinning.”

So this is what opponents of Amendment One are up against.  Paul Stam and the believers.

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