| Thursday, March 02, 2006
Posted by The Dean of Cincinnati
When Silja Talvi at In These Times published “The Cult of Character,” she pointed the national spotlight on Cincinnati, Ohio—specifically the role County Commissioner Phil Heimlich has played in bringing Bill Gothard’s organization to Cincinnati politics, education, and policing. Today, The Cincinnati Beacon has new documents in this developing scandal.
In 2000, and in 2002, the Character Council of Greater Cincinnati brought Sheriff Ray Nash to town to give an extensive “character training” seminar to the police and fire departments. Public records are sparse on this training, but we did acquire a packet entitled “Police Dynamics Institute Conference Workbook.” It consists of some original writing, and then reprinted newspaper articles about the Character First! program.
To your right, you can see an image representing one page from the training materials. (We apologize for the low resolution.) The page is labeled “Dynamic of Discretion,” and it starts by naming “Five Types of Fools”:
1—Believes anything, needs instruction
2—Out for a good time, needs discipline
3—Immoral, impure, needs court supervision/intervention
4—Mocks authority, gets simple fool in trouble, needs public punishment
5—Set on evil, needs prison
As you can see, underneath these definitions is a diagram. It places a stick figure labeled “authority” at the top of a pyramid. Under the figure’s feet the block is labeled, “under authority,” and all the steps on which this authority stands have each been labeled “Fool.”
I find all of this rather troubling, and strange. First, I don’t like the definition of Fool #3. I don’t like the simple idea that courts are in charge of supervising those who are “immoral” or “impure.” These terms cross wires in terms of private religious beliefs and public policy.
Can it be any surprise that Sheriff Ray Nash, moderator of the event, made headlines in his local town when he fired someone for living with a woman out of wedlock?
From The Daily News:
Life in the Bible Belt
LOCAL SHERIFF TITHES PUBLIC MONIES
Summerville…Sheriff Ray Nash “lets his little light shine,” in the words of the gospel song. First the Bible thumping sheriff of Dorchester County, just north of Charleston, fired an officer for living with a woman to whom he was not wed—and published new policies disallowing all such “non-Christian” behavior. Now he has been called in by the County Council to explain why he paid over $29,000 in public monies to a local church. The sum equals ten-percent of the funds he handled for the County’s temporary housing of Federal prisoners for the US Marshall service. The Sheriff is an elected official in Dorchester County—which moderates Council’s authority over his activities. Nash, a Republican, who is running for his second 4-year term in November, says that he was only paying the church to perform “chaplains duties,” for the department. He said that he didn’t mind if the payments were referred to a a tithe. It was subsequently learned that the sheriff had also sent over $9000 in the departments recreation fund to the church. The sheriff has no announced opposition in the coming election. County Council met to review the issue. Approximately 150 of the sheriff’s political supporters and church members booed and hissed as Council members voted to suspend the sheriff’s control of the monies in question. The Federal “prisoner housing” funds will now be administered by the County as part of its general fund.
The Character training here for our police and fire was overwhelmingly well received, but there were some noteworthy “minority reports” in some unsigned evaluations of the program. My favorite: “Sometimes I got the feeling I was at a Promise Keepers meeting. Kept waiting to get baptized in the name of Jesus Christ.”
In some capacity, this training is still with our police department. Go to the links page through the Police section of Cincinnati’s government site, and the second item you will find points toward a “Character Counts!” web page.
So there you have it. Phil Heimlich is affiliated with a cult-like group of Bill Gothard followers who trained our police officers to think that everyone under authority is a fool.
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