Local News

Jones Defends Involvement In Issues Outside His District

Posted April 9, 2004 9:56 a.m. EDT

— Unemployment, low wages and rebuilding from Hurricane Isabel all are issues that have a daily impact on residents of eastern North Carolina.

But their congressman,

Walter Jones

, seems to be spending a lot of time on moral and ethical issues that are not in his district.

Jones has taken stances on issues like Lumbee Indian recognition in Robeson County, a hate speech investigation in Chapel Hill, even a book debate in Wilmington.

Whether or not the voters in the 3rd congressional district agree with him, Jones said those morality issues are exactly where his focus should be.

He said he will take any opportunity he can to speak out on what is right and what is wrong, whether it is in his district or not.

"I am a firm believer that America was founded on Judeo-Christian principles," Jones said. "I don't think it matters where you live. If you believe in the teachings of the Bible, and you have an opportunity to speak out on right and wrong, you should take advantage of that opportunity."

When Jones found out a book about two gay princes who get married was in an elementary school in Wilmington, he called on the state school superintendent to remove the book from any elementary school in the state.

When Jones heard about an e-mail from a University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill professor that berated a white, Christian student who criticized homosexuals, he helped get a federal review of the university in motion.

Jones also opposes giving full recognition to the Lumbee Indians. He is worried it will lead to casinos in Robeson County.

All of those issues are outside the district Jones represents. In spite of that, Jones said he is tuned in to his district.

"We have issues dealing with farmers and have issues dealing with the economy," he said. "So, I'll be involved in a multitude of issues."

The campaign manager for Roger Eaton, a Democratic competitor to Jones in November, questions Jones' actions.

"I respect his opinions and beliefs," Larry Spell said. "I just don't think that's the best use of his time as eastern North Carolina's representative. I would rather see a representative working on protecting the environment of eastern North Carolina, getting jobs to eastern North Carolina."

Jones said he has more work to do on the morality front. He wants legislation allowing preachers to politic from the pulpit without risking their tax-exempt status. He also is trying to get non-denominational prayer returned to lunchtime at the Virginia Military Institute.