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"Desperate Lies" and Unpleasant Truths 

The Bulletin, whose editorial page day by day is sounding more like The Tea Party Gazette, pitched a hissy fit this morning over what it calls a “desperate lie” against Jason Conger.

What has The Bulletin’s editorial board sputtering and fuming is a mailer recently sent to Bend voters by supporters of incumbent Judy Stiegler that claims Conger “wants to teach creationism in our public schools” and “wants to drain millions from Bend’s public schools.”

On the first charge, the editorial goes into full-on sneer mode: “What will Stiegler’s supporters claim next? That Conger wants to require public school teachers to wear crucifixes? That he forces the family dog to confess its sins once a week?”

Even more ridiculous, the editorial huffs, is the ad’s claim that Conger stated his support for creationism and school vouchers in a Bulletin story.

So what does that story – which appeared Oct. 10 under the byline of Nick Budnick – really say?

Conger “thinks Oregon should explore programs that give vouchers to parents who send their kids to private school and personally thinks that failing to teach ‘credible theories’ like ‘intelligent design,’ a theory based on biblical creationism, alongside Darwin's theory of evolution in public schools amounts to ‘censorship.’”

In other words, Conger would like to see creationism – or “intelligent design,” which is just a euphemism for it – taught in public schools. And he would like to see parents get vouchers to send their kids to private schools – vouchers paid for with tax dollars that otherwise would have gone to public education.

Where’s the “desperate lie” here?

It gets better. A paragraph from Budnick’s story that the editorial didn’t bother to quote says: “Conger said he expects to have much the same ideological profile as his ex-boss, former Congressman Frank Riggs. Riggs was a socially conservative born-again Christian.”

Riggs, a Republican who was elected to Congress from California as part of the “Gingrich Revolution” in 1994, supported a constitutional amendment to allow prayer in the schools and voted for school voucher programs. including vouchers to pay tuition at religious schools.

“Conger opposes abortion and gay marriage,” Budnick’s story continued. “He supports civil unions, though he said he doesn't have enough information to form an opinion on whether they should be granted all the same legal rights as married couples.”

Conger’s positions on abortion, creationism and school vouchers are not surprising. Early in the race this blog reported on his association with, and support by, a local group called “Prepare the Way” that appears to embrace the “Dominionist” doctrine, which holds that Christians have a divinely ordained mission to rule the Earth.

In the Budnick story, Conger goes on to say that although he’d like to see creationism made part of the curriculum and he’d like to see school vouchers, those wouldn’t be high-priority items for him if he gets into the state legislature.

The Bulletin apparently accepts those assurances at face value. Unfortunately, we all know that what politicians say to get elected and what they actually do in office aren’t always the same. And Conger wouldn’t be the first politician to hide a radical agenda behind a mild, moderate façade. 

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