Monday, June 15, 2009

Cityview publishes column on Rod Roberts


When Rod Roberts embarked on his first Statehouse bid in 1998, I was skeptical. In fact, the candidacy of this ordained Christian conservative pastor frightened me.

With a passionate belief in separation of church and state, I had visions of Rod as something of a localized Pat Robertson, an evangelical bent on Bible-beating his view of life and Christianity into his politics, his representation of us. Most of all I feared that if Roberts, a Republican, shirt-sleeved his brand of Protestantism, he’d expose rifts in this city that we’ve long since repaired to make way for collective progress and respect.

After hundreds of interviews and interaction with Roberts over the last decade, I can now say that my initial suspicions, which I think Rod himself would admit were fair and not borne out of any malice, were dead wrong.

Simply put, Roberts has demonstrated himself to be a member of that proud tradition of Christians in politics, those whose private faith informs their public acts.

Over his nine years in the Iowa House, Roberts, the Iowa development director with the Christian Churches/Churches of Christ, has been a reliable vote on social conservative issues to be sure. He’s vehemently opposed to abortion and is steadfast in his religiously based view that marriage should be between one man and one woman. Organizations such as the decidedly right-of-center Iowa Family Policy Center know this and tell us they’re quite comfortable with the prospect of a Governor Rod Roberts. They trust him.

But it is not with social issues that Roberts has made his name in the Legislature and Iowa politics. Specifically, Roberts fought for legislation that has dispersed money from casino-rich counties to the rest of the state through Endow Iowa. Rural areas without slot-machine-fed streams of cash benefit enormously from this. It is a signature accomplishment.

The full column is published in Cityview

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