Count Basie Theater in Red Bank recently broke ground on a large expansion project. Congressional District 4’s representative, Chris Smith, was at the ceremony.
“Smith Helps Break Ground on Count Basie Expansion” reads the headline on Smith’s website. However, holding a shovel for photos was Smith’s only involvement — he didn’t aid in the development, planning or funding for the expansion.
Being present only for photo opportunities is the cornerstone of Smith’s congressional career. This year, he’s exclusively returned to New Jersey for such events: the ground-breaking in Red Bank, a ribbon-cutting in Sea Girt, a memorial dedication in Toms River, a museum event in Wall, an Alzheimer’s walk in Bradley Beach. The list goes on.
It’s a consistent pattern. Smith presents himself as having involvement in safe, uplifting projects — there only when the cameras are on. He’ll give a scripted speech at a podium and never take questions.
This all serves as misdirection to mask his extremely social conservative agenda. He’s authored legislation to deny gay rights, ban gay marriage and criminalize homosexual activity. As chair of the House Subcommittee on Africa, he denied aid for HIV prevention programs, preaching abstinence. He’s argued that public schools must find “the God of the Bible and Biblical values in the classroom.”
He’s closely aligned with Christian dominionist groups and speaks regularly for the Southern Poverty Law Center-designated hate group FRC. Recently he spoke on FRC talk radio, outraged that FEMA’s hurricane recovery doesn’t prioritize churches over other buildings. This month, Smith’s receiving the “Cedars of God” award from the Christian supremacist group IDC.
The First Amendment clearly explains the separation of church and state. Apparently Smith hasn’t read it.
This letter also appeared in the Asbury Park Press.