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I never heard back from the pastor. I did, however, get a nice note from his lawyer. After sharing a few choice thoughts about what I should and should not print, the attorney wrote, "It is my understanding that all real estate taxes on the private residence have been paid."
A supervisor at the Johnson County Treasurer's office confirms that the county has received full payment for all of Johnston's delinquent real estate taxes for 2003 and the first half of 2004. The check was posted on February 3, the same day I called Jeremy.
This was a big relief, because I remembered what Johnston had said during the Deceiver sermon about people who don't pay their taxes.
"You know, some of us, if we're not careful, we will deceive ourselves. And that's really scary. You're going to tell yourself you're really right with God when really things aren't right with God.... I deceive myself when I'm filling out my tax return and the accountant says, 'Pay this,' and I say, 'Let's just rip the government off here.'"
I was glad that Johnston had paid up. Because I'd hate for the man pushing a constitutional amendment to be, you know, ripping off the government.
On January 30, just a few days before the Kansas House was slated to vote on the gay-marriage amendment, Johnston devoted his half-hour TV show to a rerun of his sermon "Same Sex Marriage vs. Marriage God's Way." If gays were successful at redefining the institution of marriage as we know it, Johnston warned, they would "again pursue an agenda that's almost unbelievable." It was a litany of horrors.
"If gay marriage became law in the U.S., it would quickly destroy traditional marriage and families.... Children would suffer in significant ways.... Public schools in every state would teach homosexuality to children as a normal lifestyle.... Foster-care programs would be forced to accept homosexual families.... Adoption rights would be extended to homosexual unions.... The health-care system would be severely crippled and potentially collapse.... Religious freedom would be threatened with censorship and potential criminalization.... The U.S. would become the catalyst for the destruction of the family and moral decay globally! ... Other deviant groups would seek acceptance and normalization."
And Johnston's greatest fear: "Similar to the disobedient nations of the Old Testament, America would experience the judgment of God."
On Tuesday, February 1, after Johnston sent state reps a transcript of this sermon, along with copies of Marriage Under Fire by Focus on the Family's James Dobson, the House of Representatives decided to send the marriage amendment to Kansans for a vote on April 5.
This amendment would be even stronger than Missouri's. It wouldn't just ban gay marriages -- it would prevent all civil recognition of gay couples.
For the wonderful straight couples in his church, though, the ones who could get married, Johnston had a special treat: a "passionate" February sermon series called "How to Find Love, Enjoy Love and Rekindle Love."
While life had just grown a lot colder for gay people in Kansas, Johnston and Christie were set to leave for a very romantic "escape to paradise" -- along with First Family members and TV friends who could come up with $2,195 a person for a February 21-28 getaway to Honolulu.
"This is a trip you don't want to miss to one of the most beautiful places on earth," Pastor Jerry wrote in the vacation brochure. "Over the course of our marriage, we visit Hawaii at special times. It has given us time to relax and unwind, to grow closer to the Lord and to keep the romance alive in our marriage."