Faith-based coalitions condemn Indiana lawmaker’s Facebook posts

Two faith-based civil-rights coalitions have condemned anti-Catholic and anti-Muslim Facebook posts a newly elected Indiana state lawmaker made a few years ago

The Catholic League and the Council on American-Islamic Relations in statements this week cited the “bigoted” comments made by John Jacob, a 54-year-old Republican from Indianapolis who won a heavily Republican House district Nov. 3.

In the past two to four years, Jacob posted Facebook comments saying that the Islamic faith cannot coexist in the United States, that Muslims are traitors who should be deported, and that the Roman Catholic Church is a cult and of Satan, that its parishioners should repent and leave the church, and that the Pope is an anti-Christ.

Jacob could not be reached on his cellphone Thursday for comment. 

William A. Donohue, president of the Catholic League, a civil-rights organization that fights anti-Catholicism, released a letter Thursday that he sent through overnight mail and emailed to Jacob. He sent a copy to House Speaker Todd Huston. 

“All of these bigoted posts were written prior to your recent electoral victory,” Donohue wrote. “As such, I ask that you renounce these anti-Catholic remarks, and pledge that you never make them again.”

Donohue asked for a response by the end of the month. 

The Council on American-Islamic Relations issued a similar statement Wednesday. 

“A person who holds such bigoted views is clearly unable to fairly represent a diverse community,” said Robert S. McCaw, the council’s government affairs director. “We urge Mr. Jacob to resign, or failing that, Republican leaders should remove him from their caucus.”

On Tuesday, the ceremonial first day of the Indiana legislative session, Huston said he told Jacob the Facebook posts were unacceptable. Asked at the time whether House Republicans would admit Jacob into their caucus, Huston declined to say. 

“Caucus issues are private, but we are working through those discussions,” Huston said. 

IndyStar reported Jacob’s Facebook posts in a story Oct. 29, for which Jacob could not be reached on his cellphone, email or Facebook page. He talked briefly with an IndyStar reporter Tuesday before going into a meeting during his orientation at the Statehouse. 

“There is a full context to a story,” Jacob said, while declining to offer that context. “I would say those things honestly don’t impact my role as a representative. As a Christian, God calls me to love him and to love other people. I can disagree with people. I can disagree with people and still love them at the end of the day.”

Jacob surprised the Republican establishment in the June primary by defeating incumbent Dollyne Sherman, whom the party had backed. He then easily defeated Democrat Angela Elliott with 67 percent of the vote for a two-year term in District 93, which stretches from southern Marion County into Johnson County. 

Call IndyStar reporter Chris Sikich at 317-444-6036. Follow him on Twitter: @ChrisSikich.