Big Sky Christian Center pastor and homophobe Harris Himes said being incarcerated last week on felony theft charges was an eye-opener. We bet! The thought of Himes in jail evokes all sorts of images. We envision something like a high-profile closet-case who lobbies state legislators to restrict gay rights and then discovers his smoldering love for his fellow man while surrounded by beefcake in the exercise yard at Montana State Prison in Deer Lodge.
It could happen. Montana's Commissioner of Securities filed six felony charges against Himes last week. That means his stint in the Ravalli County clink might foreshadow a longer stretch. Himes could face decades in prison resulting from allegations that he and another pastor, James "Jeb" Bryant, bilked a Bitterrooter, referred to in court documents as "G.S.," out of $150,000.
Charging documents paint a nefarious picture of Himes, who allegedly promised big returns if G.S. invested a recent inheritance in Duratherm Building Systems, a construction-goods company in which Bryant and Himes claimed to have partnership stakes. "G.S. told Pastor Himes he wished to invest his money in a conservative, risk-free investment that provided income to support ministry work and would allow him to serve the Lord full time," documents state.
After the commissioner's office filed charges, Himes told KGVO Radio that he has not done anything wrong. "I will say this unequivocally: I am innocent of all charges, without sin or guilt."
Himes said the allegations are the work of social liberals who don't like his politics and want to take him down. "There is some evidence that shows that this in fact is an opportunity for the gay rights activists to come after me," he said. "(Securities Commissioner) Monica Lindeen is a lady I know from the legislature. She has always been very strongly on the other side...She is very pro-gay, very pro-abortion."
Lindeen spokesman Lucas Hamilton says Himes' claims are "outlandish" and that charges were only filed after a thorough investigation.
For our part, we can't help but think that if Himes had spent more time keeping track of his own morals rather than policing everyone else's, he might not be in this predicament.
But rather than condemn Himes, we'd like to forgive him. Hell, we might even pray for him. Because we've got a sneaking suspicion that if he's cleared of criminal wrongdoing this time, he'll get himself in trouble again.