A Republican state legislator in California is being criticized by his Democratic opponent for saying at a church conference late last month that government "should be shot."
Assemblyman Mike Morrell (R-San Bernardino County) used a 50-minute lecture to the Christian Principle Resource Conference on Sept. 29 to outline his views on government and the non-profit sector, along with sharing his views as a Christian in government. During the lecture Morrell touched on how government manages tax dollars.
"Government picks winners and losers. So what I decided to do in California; study how good of a job does government do with our tax money in helping the poor," Morrell said. "Somehow I don't think you guys think they do very well. Well, let me tell ya. Let me tell ya. It ain't very good. I mean, it's ... they should be shot."
Video of the speech was released Monday evening by Morrell's Democratic opponent Russ Warner to the Sacramento Bee and other newspapers, calling the group "extreme." The YouTube video was posted by a user named "InlandTaxpayer" who described the comments as being directed towards an "extremist organization."
“Advocating violence against Americans and our California Legislature is a fundamental betrayal of the oath of office he swore back in 2010,” Warner said in a statement to The Press-Examiner. “I call upon Mike Morrell to disavow these shameful remarks immediately.”
Morrell's spokesman, Nathan Miller, told The Huffington Post that he took issue with the characterization of the conference, which was sponsored by Immanuel Baptist Church in Highland.
"It's unfortunate that Russ Warner thinks people who go to church are extremist," Miller said.
Miller declined to elaborate on Morrell's statement.
After the controversial statement, Morrell launched into a description of state spending and what he characterized as bureaucracy taking money away from students and the poor. He said that while state government spends $12,000 per student on education, he said a "good Christian lady" in a local school system told him only $4,000 reaches each student after money is used to fund state, county and local school bureaucracies.
"Right now, I am offended that our churches and non-profits are in direct competition with our government for money," Morrell said in the speech. "The more they are raising taxes, the more it keeps us from doing the work we are doing."
Morrell's opening speech to the two-day conference was billed as a way to learn about "faith and the Founding Fathers." Other speeches touched on morals and family values, while a Christian lobbyist discussed the role of the state legislature. The event was publicized by a Tea Party group in San Diego.
Morrell was elected to the state Assembly in 2010 and is seeking his second term. A small business owner, Morrell used the beginning of his speech to discuss his thoughts on life in Sacramento, where he said it was tough for someone with "faith in God." Morrell has made religion are part of his service, including a "pastor's resource center" on his state website.
"It's always great to be back here in the district where people are normal," he said.
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