John Stoos, a key advisor in the gubernatorial campaign of Republican state Sen. Tom McClintock, has a dream:
"I dream of the day when a strong Christian majority is elected to a city council somewhere in America. This council could then pass a resolution declaring that abortion is now illegal in their city," Stoos wrote this year in a conservative religious journal.
"Of course, the city attorney would quickly tell them that they cannot do this, at which point he should be fired and a good pro-life attorney should be hired to replace him," he continued. "Next up would be the police chief, who would likely say he could not enforce such a law. Again, the council should accept his letter of resignation and hire someone who would ... "
Over the past two decades, Stoos has been an activist on issues from abortion to gun control to the primacy of the English language in the United States. Many of his views are reflected in essays in the Chalcedon Report, published by a conservative religious organization in Calaveras County. The group envisions a society in which biblical law is the law of the land.
McClintock, who employs Stoos as his deputy campaign manager and until recently paid him $93,720 a year as his top legislative analyst, said in an interview last week that he was unaware of Stoos' writings.
"I completely disagree," McClintock said, with Stoos' vision of the anti-abortion city council and "completely reject" the idea that the nation's modern laws should be biblical.
"I was not aware that he was writing for this journal and I'm upset to find that out," McClintock said Friday in an interview at the Sacramento airport, between campaign appearances. "That disturbs me greatly."
John Feliz, McClintock's campaign manager, said he had been aware of Stoos' religious views for years but had no information that McClintock knew of them.
Stoos said he has not discussed his religious views with McClintock, adding: "He didn't hire me as his pastor. He hired me as his political advisor."
In an essay published in the Chalcedon Report in the summer of 2002, Stoos wrote: "Before you commit your time and talent to particular candidates, you should ask them some basic questions." Among the questions is whether the candidate "understand[s] the biblical principles upon which our nation was founded," and whether he or she subscribes to "serious magazines or journals like the Chalcedon Report."
McClintock said Stoos has not asked him such questions. "I don't discuss theology with anyone on my staff," said the senator. McClintock added that he is not among the publication's roughly 5,000 subscribers.
Rob Boston, a spokesman for the Washington, D.C., nonprofit organization Americans United for Separation of Church and State, called Stoos' social vision "the antithesis of the separation of church and state. It's like a Christian version of the Taliban," he said.
Erwin Chemerinsky, a constitutional law professor at USC, defended Stoos' right to express such opinions, but found his views troubling in someone with influence in state government.
"He encourages the open disobedience of the U.S. Constitution," Chemerinsky said. "It's the equivalent of the Southern governors who said they wouldn't enforce school desegregation and would fire anyone in government who tried to carry out the Supreme Court's mandate."
McClintock said Stoos' work in his state Senate office focused on fiscal issues, such as the effort to overturn the state's car tax and to reform the workers' compensation system. He has not worked on social issues that might more readily conflict with his religious views, McClintock said.
Nonetheless, McClintock said, "I'm very concerned that he's continued those writings since he joined my staff ... and I'll have a talk with him about that."
Stoos said Monday that the rigors of the campaign have not allowed time for such a discussion.
Over the years, Stoos' expression of his beliefs has caused him problems.
In 1989, Stoos and four other people were sued by the operators of a Sacramento abortion clinic for allegedly blocking the clinic's entrance and harassing patients. After a protracted legal battle, a judge ordered Stoos and the others to pay nearly $100,000 in attorneys' fees incurred by the clinic. As a result, Stoos filed for personal bankruptcy, listing that debt among many he could not pay.
Stoos said he repaid many of the debts later. He did not pay the attorneys' fees, he said Monday, because he did not agree with the judge's order.
In 1995, Stoos was quoted in a Northern California newspaper as saying that Jews "would not have total acceptance" in the Christian-based society he envisioned, and that though they would nevertheless be tolerated, they "would feel more at home" in Israel. The remarks, the Contra Costa Times reported, were made during a Berkeley panel discussion on religion and politics. Stoos participated as a representative of the Christian Coalition, a conservative group founded by the Rev. Pat Robertson.