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Semi Bird urges Spokane pastors to mobilize voters for August primaries

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Semi Bird urges Spokane pastors to mobilize voters for August primaries

News Story by Cassy Benefield | FāVS News

CORRECTION: This story has been updated to correct Semi Bird’s historic first in Washington state politics.

Late Wednesday morning, gubernatorial candidate Semi Bird (R) spoke with more than a dozen Christians, mostly pastors, and emboldened them to get out the vote for him.

Pastors and church members sitting in the audience represented or came from a handful of churches and ministries including: Family of Faith Community Church, Patriot Church, On Fire Ministries, Valley Assembly, Chattaroy Community Church, Free Indeed Ministries International and the Salvation Army Spokane Citadel Corps.

Hosted by Family of Faith, Bird encouraged his audience to share with their congregations and other pastors to vote for him in the upcoming primary Aug. 6.

“Its pastors going out and activating their churches,” Bird said. “Talk about self-governance and that we must act. We must do something to preserve and protect our communities. They are at risk. And if not now, when? If not you? Who?”

In Washington State, the top two candidates in each race will go onto the general election vote on Nov. 5. According to a May 2024 CASCADE PBS / Elway Poll, Bob Ferguson (D) is leading with 33% with Dave Reichert (R) at 28% and Mark Mullet (D) coming in third at 9% and Bird (R) in fourth at 8%. Nearly half the voters surveyed (47%) remain undecided.

Another way to get out the vote: Defy the Johnson Amendment

Some in the audience shared with Bird what they were doing currently to support him and asked how they could get pastors, Christians and conservatives out there to vote for him. One audience member said the Family Policy Institute of Washington calculates they need 500,000 people, what FPIW calls “Defenders” to “Save Our State.”

One example came from the Rev. Rob Sheild, pastor of Chattaroy Community Church. He said that he urged his congregation during a service to vote for Bird, to which Bird called brave and courageous.

Sheild said he did this as a personal endorsement, not a church endorsement, from the front of the church during announcements.

He said this action was in line with history.

“It was particularly relevant during the time of the American Revolution where pastors definitely went to bat for certain candidates and for the right to be freed from the control of Britain,” Sheild said. “And we’ve gotten away from that with some fear due to the Johnson Amendment.”

He said pastors are afraid to speak out about politics or candidates anymore, emphasizing that not one church has ever had their tax-exempt status removed.

Under the Johnson Amendment, pastors can discuss issues in church, but they can’t endorse candidates, although they can do so privately. However, the IRS has mostly shied away from punishing churches that have had pastors who do endorse candidates in church.

As a result Sheild is not shy about endorsing candidates. He said he recommends Bird to his congregation because he’s not a politician but a consultant who “knows how to run things.” Bird being a believer is just a “cherry on top,” he said.

Discussing the issues and his plan

Bird also used his time to discuss the conservative talking points one would come to expect, especially in front of a Christian audience: faith, family and protecting the innocence of children.

semi bird
Gubernatorial candidate Semi Bird (R) speaking in front of about a dozen pastors on Wednesday (June 5) urging them to get their congregations and other pastors out there to vote for him. Taken at Family of Faith Community Church in Spokane, Washington. / Photo by Cassy Benefield (FāVS News)

Added to that, he spoke about what he would do about addicts on the streets and the homeless, how he would augment fears about what children are learning in school about gender, talking about “Bobby” going to school coming home one day announcing they are “Bobbette,” how he would end climate change limits and energy code restrictions that make building homes more expensive and how he would lower the gas tax and use what’s left of that tax for streets and bridges.

Former President Trump and his “Make American Great Again” slogan hardly came up.

Bird did emphasize he was the first Black candidate to file for governor as a Republican in Washington state history.

“And my message is not far right, MAGA, MEGA, MUGA, whatever they want to use against me,” Bird said. “I am an America first candidate. I’m a Washington first candidate. I’m a constitutional first candidate, and you know who my heart is dedicated to (pointing upward referencing God for his audience) … so we have everything we need to win.”

The turnout

Disappointed in the size of the gathering for Bird, at least one person thought more people should have been there.

Debbie Baril — who is an active member of On Fire Ministries and very involved with her church and politics — said the reason was “the church doesn’t do what it needs to do.”

Cassy Benefield
Cassy Benefield
Cassy (pronounced like Cassie but spelled with a 'y') Benefield is a wife and mother, a writer and photographer and a huge fan of non-fiction. She has traveled all her life, first as an Army brat. She is a returned Peace Corps volunteer (2004-2006) to Romania where she mainly taught Conversational English. She received her bachelor’s in journalism from Cal Poly Technical University in San Luis Obispo, California. She finds much comfort in her Savior, Jesus Christ, and considers herself a religion nerd who is prone to buy more books, on nearly any topic, than she is ever able to read. She is the associate editor of FāVS.News.

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