Dan Halloran to Run for Congress, How Will Religion Impact the Race?

There had been rumblings for several days, and yesterday it was confirmed, that Republican New York City Councilman Dan Halloran will run for the newly created Sixth Congressional District. On Sunday, Halloran received the endorsement of the Queens County Republican Party, who called him “a proven vote getter and a strong voice for taxpayers, small businesses and seniors.” Halloran responded by saying that “it is time for politics to go for non-entrenched people,” and “we don’t need career politicians in Washington carving up the turf and making things worse.”

Dan Halloran (left) receiving the endorsement of the Queens County GOP. (Photo courtesy Queens County Republicans)

Dan Halloran (left) receiving the endorsement of the Queens County GOP. (Photo courtesy Queens County Republicans)

The Queens County GOP endorsement is a big deal, as the new 6th Congressional District sits within Queens County, and so far, Halloran hasn’t received any primary challengers. Still, this will be an uphill battle for the Councilman. The redrawn district is still expected to lean heavily Democratic, and retiring Representative Gary L. Ackerman (D) noted that “if there was a chance Democrats couldn’t hold it, I would be running.” Halloran’s most likely opponent is Assemblywoman Grace Meng (D-Flushing), who received the endorsement of the Queens Democratic Party. However, Meng will face a primary challenge from two other local Democrats, and the results of that contest could swing the race in Halloran’s favor.

Halloran had considered a run at Ackerman’s seat back in 2010, but wavered, and ultimately backed off due to a lack of resources. Now, with the seat wide open, it seems likely that the Republican establishment will funnel money into Halloran’s campaign in hopes that they can pick up a congressional seat. Of course, one big question mark over his campaign is how religion will affect the race. For as long-time readers of The Wild Hunt know, Halloran is Theodish, a Heathen reconstructionist religion that focuses on Anglo-Saxon gods and traditions.

From the beginning of his political career, Halloran’s opponents have made his faith an issue. None more ardently than Steven Thrasher at The Village Voice, who sensationalized the candidate’s beliefs back in 2009, then following up with a 2011 piece about Halloran’s“strange career” as a city councilman that featured cover art depicting Halloran with a dead sacrificed goat, ceremonial robe and runic cloak. Thrasher is already licking his chops at the thought of Halloran running, making it plain he intends to once more make Halloran’s faith into an issue.

“Either way, we look forward to covering this race and speaking further with Halloran’s constituents, as well as the supportive and disaffected members of his Theodish kingdom, New Normandy.”

The New York Times, in their report, noted that Halloran has “come under the microscope for his religion,” while the New York Post snarkily runs with the headline “well, he’s got the Pagan vote.” Knowing that Halloran’s faith will be an issue, Robert Hornak, executive director of the Queens GOP, was already framing the Republican Party’s response.

“This as an issue of religious freedom, if they want to attack him for that, they can go ahead.”

In short, they are taking the high ground on religion. As for Halloran, PNC reporter Cara Schulz, who interviewed Halloran in 2010, asked him how his constituents felts about his faith after it was made an issue during his election to City Council.

“It’s not an issue….Almost everyone sees what was done as a terrible campaign hit-piece. My service in the Council and advocacy for our neighborhoods has proven beyond a shadow of doubt that my religious faith is not only irrelevant to my public policy… but also a source of great personal strength for me which only inures to the benefit of my Community. I do occasionally hear that being a “Druid” explains why I am such an eco-conscious Republican.”

That may all be, but with everyone predicting a hard-fought presidential battle this November, many Congressional seats are going to swing with the prevailing electoral winds. It seems unlikely that no one will go after Halloran for religion, though I doubt Meng herself would, since many of her supporters and constituents in the New York Asian community are Buddhist. In fact, if Meng were Buddhist herself (something I can’t confirm, if anyone has seen an article where she talks about her faith, please let me know) we could have a race were neither candidate were Christian. Could this be the first truly post-Christian Congressional campaign in the United States? Will we see the first openly Pagan member of Congress in the United States?

I will, of course, be following Halloran’s campaign closely. The Councilman is expected to hold a press conference today at 5pm (Eastern) announcing his candidacy, and I’ll update here with links and other resources once it’s up.

About Jason Pitzl-Waters
  • Slaeghunder

    Well, I suppose this probably won’t be any worse media coverage than the usual pieces that paint Heathens as a sub grouping of white supremacist prison gangs.  Not any better either, mind you, just not any worse. 

  • http://vermillionrush.wordpress.com Vermillion

    I’ll have to scan up all the propaganda we’re sure to get bombarded with Jason :)

    • http://www.wildhunt.org/blog/ Jason Pitzl-Waters

      That would be awesome.

  • Anonymous

    And once again, let me be the first ardently NON-Conservative, NON-Republican to point out that the Democrats here acted like a bunch of Right-Wing, Social Conservative, Christian Supremacists last time Halloran ran for office…and I’m disgusted with them for that.

    I almost always make the First Amendment my primary issue for basing my support/opposition to a candidate upon, and in this case, the (allegedly)”Liberal” Democrats were 100% on the wrong side of it (which is most notable in this being different from the norm).  When Democrats start taking Socially Conservative positions, and attacking a minority religion like this, simply because of the “R” next to his name, they show a complete lack of spine or character.  Frankly, it’s issues like this that forced me to abandon the Democratic Party in favor of the Libertarian Party.

    Now, I don’t particularly like Halloran, most of his positions, or the way that he seemed to be trying to pretend to be a Christian in some of his interviews…but that doesn’t give anyone the right to attack his religion like this.  It’s not “okay” to attack Mormonism because Romney is a Mormon, or to attack Islam because Osama bin Laden was a Muslim, or even Christianity, just because Sarah Palin is a Christian.  

    But it IS “okay” to attack it when a person attempts to force those beliefs upon others, or makes statements regarding the “supremacism” of one religion over another.  Osama made those kinds of statements.  Palin made those kinds of statements.  Halloran and Romney* have not…therefore their religious beliefs are not up for ridicule.

    (*NOTE: I’m speaking specifically of Romney’s Mormonism. I really have no idea whether he’s made more broad statements of Christian Supremacism.  I just know he hasn’t – to my knowledge – made such statements regarding Mormonism.)

    • Lonespark

      Well said, Bryon.

  • Deborah Bender

    “Could this be the first truly post-Christian Congressional campaign in the United States?”

    There probably have been a few races in which the Democratic and Republican nominees were both Jewish.

  • Anonymous

    My politics are quite different from Mr. Halloran’s but I hope that his religion (and that of his opponent) is a non-issue. He now has a record of positions and achievements and that should be what matters.  

  • A.C. Fisher Aldag

    That’s exactly what we need, more Republican Pagans! YESH!  And you’ll notice how many ladies are in that photo, dispelling the propaganda that the GOP is “anti-woman”.  Go, Mr. Halloran!  Next stop, Pensylvania Avenue!

    • Mia

      Perhaps. If the Republicans ever pull their heads out of their Christian  behinds and start focusing on important things then maybe we can have a true competition among level-headed people that actually offer different options for a change, instead of everything being centered around religious beliefs or the lack thereof. Or bringing in a third party. Or giving more power to states so that regional differences are taken into account. SOMETHING so that we actually can make a choice outside of choosing the “lesser evil”.

      But then again, who the hell knows. I’m not holding my breath.

    • Anonymous

      Lack of women *in* the Republican Party is not why the Republican Party is anti-woman. Their policies are against the best interests of women, regardless of how many women vote against their own interests. 

      • A.C. Fisher Aldag

         I also vote for policies that positively impact families and children, as do my female Republican counterparts.  Not just the selfish interests of some women… voting for bread and circuses…!

    • Anonymous

      Please look up the term “logical fallacy.”

  • Anonymous

    I’d be genuinely surprised if he’d have been endorsed (or have no competition) if this were perceived by the GOP as a real race. These heavily leaning, redistricted races, the party who isn’t favored is generally happy to have anyone reasonably credible run, because it’s hard to recruit candidates in a race like that.

    I used to be a very active out moderate Pagan Republican (I’m no longer Republican, nor do I agree with any of their issue stands), and my experiences were kind of interesting. I got a lot less flak over being Pagan than I suspected I would, but I’m in a fairly liberal area. My friend down south a bit more, another active moderate Pagan Republican, received a lot more open discrimination from within the party than I did. (And there are some places where the convention is so heavily steeplejacked by Dominionists that I wouldn’t even dream of someone being out as Pagan.) Being “on the right side” gives you a large degree of transactional immunity, even as they’d gladly trash someone on the other side for the exact same thing, and Republicans like to tout their diversity as a “see? we’re not discriminatory at all!” while passing legislation that absolutely is. It’s an easy immunity to lose, though, if you start being perceived as too contrary on issues, or if you are in a position to compromise the party with religious conservatives– as I didn’t run for anything, I was never in that position.

    (I’m about to start being active as a Democrat (even though they’re too conservative for me, they’re the closest game in town that has any real chances), it’ll be interesting to see how the ways they react to my Paganism match and differ from those of the Republicans.)

  • Baruch Dreamstalker

    It really pains me to see the Village Voice willingly serve as a platform for anti-minority-religion bias. I remember when VV was on the cutting edge of alternative journalism — hell, they just about founded it — and the place to go for what you’d never see covered anywhere else. Decades later I was put off when VV was involved in anti-trust offenses — becoming what they had railed against – but at least that was the suits in the suites. This is an editorial sin.

  • AQ

    Dan Halloran is no Heathen.

    He is a fraud who pretends to be Heathen only when it suits him. The rest of the time he’s more than happy to throw Heathenry under the bus.

    • A.C. Fisher Aldag

       Citations please?

      • Trumoonbear

         http://www.qchron.com/editions/north/i-believe-in-god/article_afa2e7f9-e4a0-5f94-a0d2-7f75897a68dd.html

        • Bryon Morrigan

          I have to say…that if I’d written that article, I’d be getting emails/calls from friends, relatives, associates, etc., asking when I converted to Christianity. 

          That was obviously his intention – to make people think he was Christian – and it’s why, while I will defend the guy from the anti-Heathen response from VV and others…but I really have very little respect for him, as he proved that, when push comes to shove, he won’t stand up for his Gods, Goddesses, and personal beliefs or integrity, and will instead hide behind deception like a coward.

          Unfortunately, what it really shows…is that he’s a politician first and foremost, and the primary concern that he has is not Freedom, Liberty, or his constituents…but rather: Dan Halloran.  In that respect, he’s no different from 99% of the politicians in elected office, and it really shouldn’t surprise any of us…but it is still quite disturbing.

        • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=574896155 Ryan Smith

          Fuck that noise, if the only “Pagan” candidate we can get for Congress is one who is writing an article that reads like he’s a committed Christian then he’s an embarrassment to our community.  Sounds like Halloran’s out for Halloran first, the GOP second, and his community maybe as a distant third; just another wannabe 1%er climbing the social ladder while kicking out the rungs from under him.

  • http://www.facebook.com/Old.Heathen Chuck Hudson

    The only issue I have, and I may be talking out of my ass. But did he not throw his kindred and heathenry “under the bus”to advance into politics. I am going to dig but I think I remember he renounced his Thew and embraced Christianity again. Like I said I may be incorrect. But I dont think so.

    Chuck Hudson Raven Radio

    • Anonymous

      I’m not in the loop to know more intimate details, but the controversy I do remember is an interview where he talked about his feelings for “God”. When called on it, he essentially said ‘duh I was talking about Tyr*, not YHVH’ *wink wink*. He’s not stupid, he knows full well how “singular-god-with-a-capital-g” is going to be read, so he’s either lying to the Heathen community or he’s lying to the Christians. But unless he did more than that, I don’t think that’s embracing Christianity, it’s just a really dishonest pandering job.

      *Think his focus is Tyr, did I recall correctly?

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=574896155 Ryan Smith

        Doesn’t matter who he’s deceiving, fact is he’s being deliberately deceptive about his faith when he should be standing proud for what he believes in.  That goes double if his primary God is Tyr, the God who gave His right hand rather than break His word.

  • From_alamut

    I wonder if his opponent will uncover the incident in the earlier 90′s with underage drinking of mead at a pagan festival in New England when he was a NY cop. I remember it mentioned on the Usenet at the time


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