By Jacob Hall
Shortly after his nomination as the Republican candidate to replace Rep. Dwayne Alons, who passed away earlier this month, Iowa House District 4 candidate John Kooiker sat down for an exclusive one-on-one with The Iowa Statesman. Here is the complete exchange.
Describe your worldview and what role that would play in your decisions as senator: I have a Christian world and lifeview. I believe that God ultimately holds the supreme authority over the affairs of human beings and that anybody who is placed in a position of authority has to acknowledge that they are put in that place by God and they are to be good stewards of the power that God has given them, not to become over-bearing and not to become dictatorial. They are to be more like a shepherd of a flock than a drill sergeant in an army.
What is the purpose of the government?: Basically to maintain law and order within a society, to defend the borders of the country that the government is in charge of and to control the basic human nature which is prone to hate God and their neighbor and instead make it a society that can be peaceful and can afford the opportunity for people to advance from poverty to a little bit higher standard and gain the means to support themselves and be entrepreneurial. Jesus said we render to Cesar what is Cesar’s and to God what is God’s. Government always has to realize it is in a place of power, but ultimately accountable to God for its actions. For that reason it should be limited and allow for as much freedom for people to conduct their lives without interference from the government.
What books, family influences and/or historical figures have had the most influence on you?: I think the first book that made a really big impression on me was “The Screwtape Letters” by C.S. Lewis, which so vividly describes what is going on behind the scenes as far as temptations people are confronted with and how those temptations are used to cause people to do things that are bad; things that are not pleasing to God and things that would set them on the road to destruction and upset everything in society. That book was very eye-opening. We read a lot of books to our children when they were growing up. Those books had to do with the foundation of our country and the pioneers who made it possible to live here in the Midwest and places further west. (For example) The Little House on the Prairie series. Those are books that advocate for hard work, family and things like that.
More recently, because of what I see on the horizon as far as corruption in our government and the over-reach by the Obama Administration and some of the spiraling down of our morals, a book that has really made an impact on me is “The Harbinger” by Jonathan Cahn and the follow-up “The Mystery of the Shemitah” also by Cahn. Basically that makes parallel comparisons to Israel back in 732 BC and talks about some of the warning signs that Israel and Judah were receiving but chose to ignore. As a result they were eventually carried out into captivity and Jerusalem was destroyed. I’m not saying that will happen to the United States, but if we don’t repent and turn back to God and start doing things differently instead of keeping on the path we’re going down our society will basically destruct itself by what is going on inside this country and not so much from outside forces.
What are the issues you consider ‘non-negotiables’?: I absolutely am staunchly committed to the fact that life begins from the moment of conception to the moment of death and is precious and another human being has no right to take that life away. That is non-negotiable. We read in Psalms that we have been cleansed by God and before we were even born we were knitted together within our mother’s womb by a sovereign God.
The other thing is marriage was established at the dawn of creation between one man and one woman. That’s the natural way God wants us to conduct our life here on earth. He made it possible for an intimate, loving relationship between a man and a woman through marriage and obviously that’s the way the human race is procreated.
Another non-negotiable is the federal government shouldn’t have the right to impose the Common Core curriculum on all schools throughout the country. Parents and the school board should decide what curriculum is used in local schools. In connection with Common Core, the standardized method of testing to see what student progress is and tests the (ability) of a teacher is a false type of testing because it obviously will make teachers teach towards students being tested to make themselves look like better teachers. Having been a teacher, I know it’s a good idea to have challenging tests that test the student’s ability to not only memorize, but to analyze the subject. That’s practical as far as how they’ll use it later in life.
Stewardship of the land is one of my priorities. I started farming this land back in 1976 and shortly thereafter 50 other young farmers and myself formed the Christian Farmers Association. The emphasis of our organization is to take better care of the land which will be here for many generations after us. We have to keep the soil where it is and not let it erode. We have to keep the water as pure as possible and not let chemicals into the streams and groundwater. For that reason, I’ve served on the Sioux County Soil and Water Conservation board several terms and gone to a lot of conservation districts in Iowa. Conservation is high on my list. I want to try to be very stewardly with the resources God has given to use. If we misuse them or abuse them, that’s not right.
What is the law and where does the law come from?: The law comes from the Ten Commandments initially. You shall not kill, shall not commit adultery, should not steal, honor your father and mother. Of course, a lot of controversy now is even mentioning those things in the court house or public property. God ultimately gives us His law and then man in turn extrapolates from that more specific things such as one simple one being not killing somebody so you drive the speed limit. Law is made by man, a majority of legislators that takes up certain issues and look at it from all sides and sees how we can make a law that is practical and enforceable without a lot of unforeseen consequences to it.
At what point do you believe a human life is guaranteed the legal protections of being an American citizen and what would you do to ensure those protections are provided?: I believe that life begins at the moment of conception and from that point on should not be aborted. This so-called Affordable Care Act tells companies what type of insurance they have to provide for employees includes 20 different kinds of contraceptives or abortifacients. Some of those obviously are killing unborn embryos. Those are the ones that places like Hobby Lobby object to and Dordt College objects to. That’s an over-reach of the federal government into peoples’ personal lives.
As far as protection, I would say let every pregnant lady, woman, girl see an ultrasound of the life that is forming inside them. Hopefully that will make them think twice before killing it. Another thing I think that should be on the books and enforced is that abortion providers should have access to a nearby hospital in case something goes wrong. Those are two things I think could be used to help protect the life of the unborn.
Do you support a Personhood Amendment?: I think that’d be a great idea. Of course the pro-choice people would right away get on their high-horse and try to find that to be unconstitutional. Something like that would go all the way up to the Supreme Court because it’s a threat to Roe v. Wade. Right now we have some excellent Christian attorneys in the Alliance Defending Freedom and other pro-life organizations that provide pro bono legal work and they could take that all the way to the Supreme Court and I think they could get Roe v. Wade overturned.
Jane Roe, whose name is on that decision, later recanted her position, but it doesn’t make any difference to society. It’s been very detrimental to our society. We’ve killed nearly 60 million unborn children between 1973 and the present. That’s what Israel and Judah were doing, killing children on the altar of Molech and Baal. Those are the kinds of things that won’t go unpunished. We have to really encourage whatever will enhance family life – having a father and a mother and maybe four children or more. That is what will make a stable society, not what we’re doing now with over half the children born to black women conceived out of wedlock and raised by the mother herself.
A lot has changed with the definition of marriage during this presidency. What are your views on marriage?: You cannot change God’s definition of marriage. Marriage is between one man and one woman. God made man first and saw it was not good that Adam should be alone, so He made a woman so that she could be a compliment to him. Both (man and woman) are made in God’s image. It’s hard to fathom that, that God can be a father to us but also be as loving and tender to us as a hen who settles her chicks under her wings.
God has a better plan for marriage and the relationship between a man and a woman than what men and women do. As far as legislation, they should not get the same tax breaks that a married couple gets. They should not have the same advantages that come from child rearing. We just have to make it more advantageous for families to be families and less advantageous for homosexuals to be homosexuals. I’m not saying they can’t do whatever they want to do, that’s their business, but they don’t have to ask for us to cater to their so-called civil rights because it is not a civil right to be a homosexual. That’s a choice. They’re going to say it’s genetic, but it’s a choice.
Where do you stand on religious liberty?: The people who are baking cakes for a couple about to get married should have the right to refuse and not get sued. When it comes to litigation against people who supposedly discriminate against homosexuals, they (homosexuals) are doing the same thing in reverse by discriminating against Christian who do not adhere to their way of behaving. Suing is lawyer-driven for people with dollar signs in their eyes. It’s the natural greed in the heart of man and is something that needs addressed. People should learn to be more content with what they have.
Where do you stand on ObamaCare in Iowa?: “If a state exchange is already running, there’s not much I can do to stop it. If there isn’t I’d very adamantly be opposed to setting that up.”
Where do you stand on illegal immigration?: “We have laws on the books that need to be enforced. Right now I think I just heard that Obama’s executive order has been thrown out by a judge. We just have to get law enforcement – when there’s a car accident, they need to check if somebody is licensed and they should be checking if somebody is here legally. If not, they should be detained and asked to go through the proper hoops to either stay or get out.
What should be done with those here illegally?: That’s where the ministry of the church and Christians comes in. I’ve been in discussion with Christian friends of mine about this issue and there are different ways of looking at it. Immigrants are human beings created in God’s image, therefore we should love them and be concerned for their welfare. At the same time, they should be abiding by the laws on the books.
For every law that is broken, there is going to be a consequence. When we raised children and they did wrong, I let them suffer the natural and logical consequences of their actions. A lot of them will say they come here to have a better life. Maybe that’s true, but have they ever done something in the country they came from to help make themselves have a better life? They say no, they’re helpless, so they come to the U.S. and let the U.S. government help them. Then you’ll hear the old mantra that a lot of us are immigrants and the only ones here legally before Columbus were the Native Americans. Is that supposed to justify the continual unrestricted immigration for who knows how long?
The United States was called a ‘melting pot’ at one time because people who came here wanted to become Americans. Now people who come here want to maintain their ethnic identity and not assimilate, stay separate, speak their own languages, and keep their own customs. Now we have a salad instead of a melting pot.
Should illegal immigrants be given citizenship?: Absolutely not. They should have to learn what the Constitution is about, the Pledge of Allegiance, to speak English, go through the citizenship test that legal immigrants to through. And then they should be put at the bottom of the list, not the top. There are many people who come here legally and have gone through the necessary steps to become legal American citizens.
So what should be done with the illegal immigrants?: If you’re going to try to get rid of 11 million people, which includes fathers, mothers, children and college students, that is impractical – you can’t. If you say, “Let them stay with some requirements, like letting them get registered, get green cards, let them pay taxes …” If they have a record of committing any kind of felony, then they should be put back where they came from. Assuming they jump through all the hoops, they could become citizens if they pledge allegiance to the USA and become less hung up on their cultural and ethnic heritages.
Where do you stand on the Second Amendment?: We should allow for people who want to own guns to buy them at places where they take down registration numbers. I don’t think the government should have access to all gun registrations. We have the right to bear arms. If we try to start trying to restrict people from owning guns in certain locations, then criminals will know that and know there are no consequences if they pull a gun and start shooting. I support the right to carry concealed.
Where do you stand on EPA regulations and climate change?: I think (climate change) is a spoof hoisted upon the public by clever statisticians who get their data from sources they know will support their preconceived ideas. From having taught statisitics, I know this so-called hockey stick graph that shows supposedly in the previous 30 years – it hasn’t happened at all in the last 10 years – but in the previous 30 years the temperature warmed by 8/10 of a degree. They make a vertical graph in units of 1/100. So, if warming increased by 8/10 of a degree, it actually goes up 80 percent. That makes the hockey stick look like a hockey stick. People start to hear this that we’re doing all this bad stuff to our world and mother earth becomes something to be protected and cherished and worshipped. God has made the earth and earth is very resilient from abuse by people. It’s not something that I’m very worried about.
But I think what is happening is a lot of money is being invested in convincing the general public there’s a problem with human beings doing too much bad stuff to the earth and the air. Of course I mentioned earlier I’m very conscientious about being a good steward. The EPA regulations of carbon dioxide and issuing carbon credits and having a carbon credit exchange is all a funny money situation to let people do more polluting if they buy carbon credits and can sell carbon credits if they plant a whole bunch of trees. What it’s doing is making it very lucrative to trade carbon credits, which may or may not justify what is being pushed as far as protecting the environment. I don’t think there’s much concern on the part of the people who are the Al Gores of the world. They’re not doing this to protect the earth so much as to enrich themselves. They’ve tried to create a crisis and any time a crisis is being created they can take advantage of the people involved.
Have you ever supported raising a tax, and if so, which ones? Any current taxes you would support increasing?: When you tax something, you get less of it. If you subsidize something, you get more of it. When (Ronald) Regan lowered taxes we got more money for our federal treasury because people became more willing to work and spend more of the money they earned. Lowering taxes improved the economy. I was very much in favor of lower taxes at that time.
Now, as far as being in favor of raising a tax, if it’s necessary – like a school bond issue and a school needs a new building or something like that – I don’t have a problem with it. Right now gas prices are low and a lot of roads, and especially some of the bridges, are unsafe. If the road fund is unable to pay all the bills incurred in improving roads and bridges, maybe it’s time to increase the gas tax.
So you are in favor of raising the gas tax?: I’m not opposed to it. When it comes to budgeting for state expenses, it should be on a performance-based budget. What do we need and how much do we need? Where will we get it from? Right now another possibility, which is legislation already on the books, is that if the state sales tax ever gets increased, 3/8 of a cent will be designated for use of conservation. That’s something I think would be a good idea. In Sioux County we had 46 people apply for doing conservation work this fall, we could only finance 16.
So you would favor raising the state sales tax or that’s just a benefit of raising it?: In the sense it would be a benefit, yes. Then it’d also be a good idea. When I talk about increasing the sales tax it’s on certain things and should not be levied on other things. If we raise the gas tax we probably won’t touch anything else.
What are your thoughts on education?: The thing that pops into my mind right away is having some kind of a voucher program where parents decide where to send children to school, whether it’s private school, public school or homeschool. I think homeschoolers should get some kind of tax incentive. If they’re not using the state’s school buildings or lunch program and things like that, they should get some kind of tax credit for homeschooling.
What do you feel is the role of the courts?: “The courts are to be the adjudicatory body of enforcing the laws. If people break the laws, then people have to bear the consequences. The courts have to decide what the consequences are after having a fair trial on the assumption everyone was presumed to be not guilty. When Arizona is told to ignore federal law and not allowed to police its own borders, that was an over-reach.
So you would oppose any judicial decisions like the one in Iowa that instituted homosexual marriage?: For sure. I’m opposed to those kinds of decisions. That’s why I voted to get rid of those judges.
Who was your favorite politician in U.S. history?: George Washington, I would say. He was one who did not want to be president and when he did take on the role he gave it up after a certain time. He did what he thought was right for getting America started on the right track.
What will you do when Republican leadership wants to do something that goes against its conservative principles?: What I had been doing is talking to Dwayne and Randy Feenstra about it. This so-called Republican Party has such a huge tent it lets all this other garbage in as far as gambling and abortion and so forth. If (Gov.) Branstad has already allowed for a state-run health exchange, that would’ve been something I would’ve knocked on his door and told him not to do.