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Pastor charged with four counts of child cruelty announces bid for Louisiana House
John Raymond, a MAGA cultist and former "Survivor" contestant, says he wants to promote "conservative Christian principles" in office
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Just over a year ago, Pastor John Raymond, the head of Lakeside Christian School in Slidell, Louisiana, was arrested after he allegedly brought three students into his office to reprimand them for talking in class… then literally taped the kids’ mouths shut after wrapping the tape around their heads. The students stayed in that condition for 45 minutes, according to police, until other administrators, feeling very awkward about this punishment, cut the tape off.
Police said the students complained they had trouble breathing while their mouths were taped and that having the tape removed was painful.
Detectives presented their evidence to a judge Thursday morning and a few hours later Raymond turned himself in to police.
He was booked into the Slidell City Jail for three counts of cruelty to juveniles.
Raymond defended the decision in a public statement saying (1) he gave the students the option of using transparent Scotch tape instead, (2) he offered to call their parents and suspend the kids but they didn’t want that, and (3) he asked the kids if they were in pain and could breathe.
He couldn’t believe people were treating him like the bad guy.
"These students were given a choice between suspension and temporary tape. They were never in any physical pain. Their breathing was never impaired. The tape was never wrapped around their heads. And it was off in under 10 minutes. No student was ever treated with cruelty or harmed in any way," he added.
You would think a guy who was the first person voted off the island when he competed on the TV show “Survivor” in 2002 (seriously!) would be a little more self-aware about how badly he comes across in social situations.
In fact, he’s so unlikeable that, in 2018 and 2019, when he ran for a seat in the Louisiana State House on a campaign of loving Donald Trump and hating gay people, even Republicans rejected him. Twice!
But it didn’t stop there.
Just a couple of months after he taped those kids’ mouths shut, Raymond was arrested again for—wait for it—child cruelty.
Slidell Police said the new allegations include Raymond holding a 4-year-old boy upside down by his ankles and "whipping his buttocks" and in a separate incident covering the same child's mouth and nose with his hand to stop a "tantrum."
In a press release, police said witnesses reported Raymond's actions prevented the child from breathing "to the point of him going limp." The witness, a staff member, said the child was "out of it and lethargic" and "unable to stand."
He took a voluntary leave of absence from the school after that, but he denied doing anything wrong. In fact, in a speech he gave that same month to the St. Tammany Republican Parish Executive Committee, where he served as an elected GOP official, he said the allegations were false and that he was a victim of “cancel culture.”
He wasn’t asked to resign; the thought of doing so never even crossed his mind. The Louisiana Republican Party State Central Committee, on which he also serves, didn’t punish him either. Why would they? Cruelty is their brand.
By November, Raymond, who’s the pastor of New Horizon Church and the owner of a Christian radio station called “The Bridge,” was formally charged with the crimes. He pleaded not guilty. He’ll be appearing in court next week to set a trial date.
Separately from all that, four parents have also sued Raymond over the alleged abuse. Their lawsuit mentions a completely different incident from the 2016-2017 school year in which Raymond allegedly assaulted another child and caused “serious bodily injury” or “neurological impairment.”
With all that controversy on his record, Raymond has finally decided to step down from his professional positions and spend more time with his family in quiet reflection about the decisions he’s made and I’m just kidding. He’s not doing anything like that. Of course he’s not doing any of that.
Instead, John Raymond just announced he’ll be running once again for the Louisiana State House.
"I feel it's important people who believe in conservative Christian principles hold positions to create laws to direct our state properly," Raymond said in an interview with USA Today Network. "I've spent 23 years serving St. Tammany Parish in promoting Christian conservative values, and I feel compelled to run to bring those values into law."
He’s the epitome of the Republican Party. A guy who faces four counts of child cruelty thinks he’s in the best position to write laws to protect children from the “woke trans-agenda.” As if guys like him aren’t the biggest threat facing kids these days.
If he wins the seat, there’s no doubt he would be an unabashed Christian Nationalist in office:
Raymond is a familiar figure in the Capitol who has testified in multiple hearings this spring supporting bills like requiring schools to post "In God We Trust" in classrooms, officially allowing historical Bible courses to be taught in public schools and in favor of LGBTQ restrictions.
Raymond is running for a seat in District 104, which is reliably red and currently represented by a Republican who can’t run again because of term limits. Whoever wins the GOP primary, then, will almost certainly be the next representative. It’s not clear if Raymond will have any opponents.
The fact that someone like him has any chance of winning this race says a lot about the ethical bankruptcy and moral depravity of GOP voters. It also reveals the unearned confidence of conservative Christian pastors who believe they are on a moral crusade. Raymond sees himself as God’s gift to his community no matter how much harm he leaves in his wake. He dismisses every allegation against him as a hoax. He’ll inevitably label his critics “anti-Christian.” And all of that will be red meat for white evangelicals who ignore the charges and focus only on his religious résumé.
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