The following is from the May 6, 2008, edition of The Fort Worth Star-Telegram. SMU Political Science Professor Matthew Wilson provided expertise for this story.
By BUD KENNEDY
Lord knows we need more politicians in church.
But not when they drag the church into campaigns.
That's what one candidate is doing in Weatherford.
Former Mayor Tom McLaughlin, now a chronic City Hall critic, must think Jesus is on his side against Mayor Dennis Hooks.
McLaughlin's signs name the ultimate campaign endorsement: "Vote McLaughlin -- For Christ and the People."
Hooks, 61, is a car dealer who has served as a City Council member off and on since 1992, as Weatherford has grown from a town of 15,000 people to a city expecting 40,000 by 2030.
He said McLaughlin's signs don't bother him.
"He must be a Christian man," Hooks said by phone. "Well, I'm a Christian man, too. I just don't go shouting it."
Maybe McLaughlin, 56, is truly a devout evangelical Christian. Maybe he's eager to share his personal testimony.
Maybe he truly wants to shout his faith from the hilltops near his home along Fort Worth Highway.
However, I couldn't even get him to return a call.
Somebody else answered his phone Tuesday.
"I don't know if he'll talk to you," she said.
He did not.
So I called Matthew Wilson, an associate professor of political science at Southern Methodist University. Wilson often comments on religion and politics for The New York Times and Newsweek, but never before had he been called for expertise on a Weatherford City Council campaign.
Wilson said he's not sure he's ever heard of a candidate campaigning with Christ's name.
"Many Christians would regard that as unseemly," Wilson said. "The implication is that other candidates are not for Christ."
Unless faith has been debated, Wilson said, using the Savior's name in a political campaign seems "gratuitous."
# # #