When religious-right lobbyist Harris Himes stepped up to the podium in a legislative committee in 2009 and said “I stand before you a potential prison inmate,” it was perhaps the truest statement he ever made.
The anti-woman, anti-gay, anti-minority pastor from Ravalli County was convicted last week of defrauding a member of his congregation out of his life savings and could face up to 30 years in prison.
Himes, who represented himself in court, claimed he was innocent of the charges, calling them a “witch hut” trumped up by “gay and pro-choice activists.” He told the jury pool that “I am a fundamentalist, Bible-thumping conservative Christian,” and that his trial was part of a war on Christianity.
Rev. Himes had claimed at the start of his trial that he would be calling some “15 and 20 witnesses” to support his case including many who would fly in from Mexico to do so. But that apparently didn’t end up panning out. As the Bitterroot Star reported, “Judge Loren Tucker, who has appeared clearly exasperated by Himes at various points in the trial, asked Himes what he proposed to do with the jury’s time with no witnesses to testify.”
Himes also argued his case in the court of public opinion. In a KGVO talk radio interview during the trial, Himes said he believed that children in public schools were destined to go to hell. He later went back on the same program to reiterate that what he meant to say was that public schools “jeopardize the salvation of a child.”
He lobbied heavily in the legislature for bills to repeal the ban against discrimination against gays, and also for bills to eliminate Montana’s constitutional right to privacy. During the 2011 legislative session, he even told legislators that he believes gay people should be put to death.
Himes partnered with TEA Party legislators like Bob Wagner and Derek Skees to back outrageous proposals like the birther bill, among others–including Sen. Greg Hinkle. Himes also worked closely with Rep. Kris Hanson, R-Havre, who sponsored Himes’ bill to prohibit cities across Montana from passing local non-discrimination ordinances. He lobbied heavily against public schools, women’s rights, tribal sovereignty, equality, and domestic violence and bullying protections over the years.
Himes has also led or worked closely with several religious-right lobbying groups in Montana including leading the Montana Values Alliance, serving as state coordinator for the Montana Eagle Forum, a stint as president of the Montana Family Coalition–all groups that worked closely with the Montana Family Foundation and the Montana Catholic Conference. He has been a featured speaker at Montana Republican party trainings and events.
Indeed, Himes has had quite a following among Montana’s hard right wing. Dallas Erickson, another religious right activist in Montana, compared him to Jesus Christ in a recent op-ed.
And many do not know that Himes is actually an author. His fictional work “Stand” is available on Amazon.com. Surprisingly no one has yet written a review of “Stand”, but here is an excerpt of this future blockbuster:
Satan s face was ugly.
“WE MUST WIN THIS BATTLE WITH GOD!” he thundered.
“WHAT DO I WANT?”
“THEIR SOULS AND THEIR SPIRITS!
SPIRISOULSPIRSOUL!” screamed his Shades.
Satan seeks to destroy all men and women. But the Christian Church stands in his way. Maybe.
Pivotal wars. Abortion. Marriage. Islam. America’s sovereignty.
The page-turner is “aimed at galvanizing the church and her pastors and priests and leaders to regain the moral leadership in the public forum which they once held, dating from before the Revolution—to become God’s Watchmen, warning the people, before it’s too late. ”
Himes reportedly spent two years writing the novel. But if sales remain flat in the near future, he shouldn’t worry too much. He’s could have have up to 30 years of hard time to rewrite it soon.