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Pastor Dino Rizzo and the Healing Place took enormous heat for Rizzo’s personal support of candidate Lee Domingue.  This is baffling given the history of church and pastoral involvement in politics in the Red Stick.

It’s no secret that pastors and churches in the Red Stick have been actively involved in political races through the years. 

As one Baptist pastor said, “If you read the scriptures, Jesus was involved in the politics of Palestine”.  Another pastor said, “There is a working relationship between pastors and politicians that’s often not talked about”.  No truer words were spoken.

For years, it has been common knowledge that the doors of churches in the Red Stick have flung open for political forums.  These actions have often been followed by the support of pastors for particular candidates based on their faith and common beliefs in what is right for the community they pastor.

Some names of churches that come to mind, that are easily verifiable through The Advocate archives, are Jefferson Baptist Church, Mt Pilgrim Baptist Church, New Gideon Baptist Church, Woodlawn Baptist Church, and Shiloh Missionary Baptist Church – all listed in past articles of The Advocate for their political involvement in the Red Stick.

No one seemed to take issue with the barage of letters written for or against specific candidates by Pastor Tommy French.  Neither has anyone criticized the list of black pastors that supported Mayor Kip Holden, including Reverand Raymond Jetson.  Sheriff Sid Gautreaux was endorsed publicly by several pastors during his political race.  None of these pastors or churches were criticized, even though the personal lifestyles of their candidates have been questioned sorely for lacking christian character.

Faith-based organizations in the Red Stick have also hosted forums and wound up working ‘behind the scenes’ with specific candidates running for political office.  WIN (Working Interfaith Network), and the Interfaith Federation of Baton Rouge, a 60-congregation membership of Christian and Jewish churches in the Red Stick,  have been very active politically through writing letters, and inviting politicians to speak to their congregations.  Flyers are often generated and passed out as members exit church on Sunday encouraging them to support candidates.  Oops, maybe I shouldn’t have mentioned that? 

The Greater Baton Rouge Federation of Churches and Synagogues is well known as an active political machine in the Red Stick.  Members of all of these organizations have donated hundreds of thousands of dollars to political candidates, though the organization itself is dissallowed by the IRS from making church contributions. 

They are many politically-savvy ministers – involved, in touch, and actively working with and for politicians and candidates.  In fact, election day activities are often run out of church annexes with members being paid for hauling getting out the vote.

To date, I have not seen any of these faith-based organizations, pastors or churches called out for these hands-on political activities. 

Yet, Dino Rizzo and Healing Place Church were targeted numerous times during the Senate District 16 race.  The truth is, this is the ultimate discrimination by political pundits.  It’s the politics of old we abhor. 

I do not know Dino Rizzo, but I have watched his service on TV numerous Sunday mornings.  He is, obviously, a man of faith that is grounded in the word of God and has been active in the Red Stick community for over a decade.   

Why shouldn’t Rizzo stand behind someone he personally knows and believes in for political office?  

Why discriminate against one pastor, but turn your head when other men of God are deeply involved in Red Stick politics?

Dino Rizzo and Healing Place Church has all the ‘gravitas’ they need in this community, and supporting someone he believes in, for political office, will not affect his standing in the Red Stick.  His pearls of wisdom are needed and wanted in our community.  That is, unless you consider yourself swine?

Until next time,

Red Stick Republican

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