Dirkx: 'I'm not running to be anybody's pastor'
GOP Statehouse candidate goes deep on his own faith but can't name bill he would have supported or opposed in 2010 legislative session
Wednesday, September 29, 2010
Republican Statehouse candidate Dan Dirkx Tuesday said he would “absolutely” apply his literal interpretation of the Bible to his role as a legislator.
What’s more, at one point in a wide-ranging, one-hour discussion with the Carroll Area Development Corp., Dirkx said his No. 1 priority for education in Iowa would be to institute moments of silence in public schools.
Dirkx, 47, may get a chance to observe such a moment of silence, depending on where he seeks the further education Dirkx told the economic leaders he needs.
“In the next month, I’m going to try to get myself into some government classes,” said Dirkx, who would represent Carroll and parts of Sac and Crawford counties should he capture the House District 51 seat this November.
In his CADC appearance at the Carrollton Centre, Dirkx said eastern Iowa shouldn’t rely so heavily on the government in the wake of floods, and he acknowledged that he doesn’t “know much” about what the Iowa Department of Economic Development does.
CADC executive director Jim Gossett asked Dirkx directly what legislation he most favored and found most offensive in the 2010 session in Des Moines, Dirkx did not name a single bill, issue or program.
“I wouldn’t even want to say one way or another,” Dirkx said. “I remember last March when the (Des Moines) Register came out with the two or three pages of what got done and the two or three pages of what didn’t get done, I thought, ‘Man, I got a chunk of information here.’ I took it home and dropped it on the kitchen table. There are currently 13 people living in my house. I haven’t seen it and I haven’t taken time to research it. So to answer your question, don’t know.”
Dirkx, a member of Pleasant Ridge Community Church south of Glidden who grew up Catholic in the Breda area and attended St. Bernard through ninth grade before moving on to Carroll High School, referenced his faith repeatedly in his opening remarks to the CADC.
“I’m not running to be anybody’s pastor,” Dirkx said. “I have a very strong opinion on the Bible and a lot of things.”
Asked if he believes in a literal interpretation of the Bible and if he would apply that perspective to his legislative work should he be elected, Dirkx said, “Absolutely and yes.”
Dirkx was then asked to respond to a passage from the Bible, Leviticus 20:13 which states: “If a man lies with a male as with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination; they shall be put to death, their blood is upon them.”
Does this mean gays should be executed by the government or individual citizens — under a literal interpretation of the Bible?
“I got a direct answer. We don’t live in the Book of Leviticus,” Dirkx said. “The Book of Leviticus was written in the Old Testament. I live beyond the cross. I live after the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ, and I don’t have to take the Book of Leviticus literal.”
Dirkx said he was not taking the Old Testament figuratively or as allegory.
“No, I put the Old Testament in context,” Dirkx said.
Dirkx said he found the theological question more interesting than the economic-development matters that would be raised by the 40-member CADC, a group comprised of representatives of a variety of businesses and industries in the Carroll area.
“I would rather take you in the other room and spend the next three weeks talking about this than talking to these people about what they want to talk about,” Dirkx told the Daily Times Herald.
On another matter connected to religion, Dirkx said he is concerned with what he believes are too easily obtained divorces.
“There’s a lot of businesspeople in this room,” said Dirkx, a farmer, grain transporter and trucker. “Could you imagine if you could get out of a business contract as easy as you can get out of a marriage?”
For his part, Dirkx and his wife, Nora, have 10 children between the ages of 2 and 16, with the couple expecting another baby. The family lives in rural Auburn.
In an earlier conversation with the Daily Times Herald, Dirkx said he had been advised by Republican operatives to tone down his religious references as they could be divisive. He told the CADC that he’s struggled with such counsel from political strategists and local Republicans.
“The biggest thing I’m struggling with in this politics is the transparency,” Dirkx said. “I’m a very honest person, and I want to be extremely transparent. Ask me a question, I’ll give you an answer. As many of you know, that’s not the way politics works. It’s all about perception.”
He added, “I don’t want to offend anybody, but I also want to be honest and transparent.”
Moving to economic matters, Dirkx takes issue with government’s involvement in flood and disaster relief. An estimated $4.1 billion in state and federal funds have been committed to recovery from the flooding and tornadoes of 2008 in Iowa.
“When people hear the word ‘FEMA’ they must just think that money falls out of the sky because there’s no shame in taking money from FEMA,” Dirkx said, referring to Federal Emergency Management Agency programs.
Dirkx said that, counter-intuitively, poor people may be better off in a flood than those with means.
“The people that are the bottom of the food chain, and they’re affected in a negative way by a deluge of water, in my world, if I was at that part of the food chain that would be a good thing because there are people that have money, and people that have money would have a mess, and the people that don’t have money can clean up their mess and then the people who have money can pay the people who don’t have money and they can go buy food,” Dirkx said. “That’s the way the economy works. You don’t just give things to people.”
Dirkx said his general philosophy is that less government is better — and he said God agrees.
“I’m a libertarian by heart,” Dirkx said. “God’s a libertarian. But you know what, I’m a Republican because there’s sin in the world and we need to have a way to protect ourselves even from good intentions. Good intentions can take you down the wrong road.”
He added, “I’m not interested in socialism or any kind of an infrastructure that’s there to make a level playing field for everybody. I’m saying you have to step back and there’s going to be some losers in order to have some winners. What’s going to inspire the loser if he never gets to look at a winner?”
The CADC asked Dirkx simply and directly what he thought about the Iowa Department of Economic Development.
“I don’t really know that much about it,” Dirkx said.
That said, Dirkx is opposed to giving incentives to lure businesses like Microsoft to Iowa.
“I think we have enough to offer without giving them incentives,” Dirkx said.
He added, “Why is Des Moines, Iowa, the white-collar capital of the world when it comes to insurance? Because people get out of bed in the morning and they go to work.”
In fact, Dirkx said the people of Iowa would be best served if lawmakers didn’t draft any new laws at all. None.
“I was asked the other night in an in-home meet-and-greet, ‘If you could make one law, what would that law be?’ Just off the top of my head, I said, ‘A law that you can make no more laws,’” Dirkx said.
During a GOP primary forum, Dirkx proposed reducing the number of school administrators, calling them “way overpaid,” and said he’d improve overall education by promoting competition between public and parochial schools.
When asked what CADC member and Carroll Schools Superintendent Rod Cordes is paid — and what he thinks he should be paid instead, Dirkx said: “I think he should be paid as little as possible.”
Then Dirkx was asked by the Daily Times Herald during the CADC session what his basis was for saying that K-12 administrators are way overpaid in Iowa.
Dirkx responded: “Gee, I feel like I’m in ‘The Jerry Springer Show.’ Should I hit him with my chair now?”
Cordes (whose salary is $120,000 annually) laughed off the jab and followed up with a question of his own, asking Dirkx his top priority to change education in Iowa.
“I think in Iowa they could allow a moment of silence before school starts in the morning and it wouldn’t be directed at a Judeo-Christian God, but a moment of silence to prepare yourself to learn and to better yourself for the rest of your life and for our culture,” Dirkx said.
Why couldn’t that be done at home before school, Cordes followed up.
“Well, it could, but how many people do it at home?” Dirkx said. “People are scurrying around home. Why can’t it be done at school?”
Dirkx went on to note that when his mother, Sheri, now retired and living in Breda, was in public school in Auburn in the 1950s the Bible was used in an English class.
“I mean they’ve taken God and thrown him under the bus,” Dirkx said.
Dirkx faces Democrat Dan Muhlbauer, a Manilla farmer and Crawford County Supervisor in the November general election for the House District 51 seat. State Rep. Rod Roberts, R-Carroll, opened the race when he sought the governor’s office. Roberts lost a primary to former Gov. Terry Branstad but maintained a campaign pledge not to re-enter the race for his House seat. Branstad, who held a 19-point lead in a recent Des Moines Register Iowa Poll over Gov. Chet Culver, has publicly said Roberts will have a high-profile job should he want one in his administration.