Ind. Rep. Mark Souder to Resign over Affair with Staffer
Indiana Rep. Mark Souder admitted to having an affair with a staffer and said he will resign today. In a 2004 interview with Religion and Ethics Newsweekly where he spoke at length about evangelicals, he described his church as somewhere between fundamentalist and evangelical.
According to news reports, Souder said in a statement that he "sinned against God, my wife and my family by having a mutual relationship with a part-time member of my staff."
"In the poisonous environment of Washington, D.C., any personal failing is seized upon, often twisted, for political gain," he said, according to the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette. "I am resigning rather than to put my family through that painful, drawn-out process.
Souder said his job in Congress was all-consuming, "especially in a district with costly, competitive elections every two years. I do not have any sort of ‘normal' life – for family, for friends, for church, for community." According to the bio on his website, he and his family attend Emmanuel Community Church, a church associated with the Church of the United Brethren in Christ, in Fort Wayne.
"As I leave public office, my plans are focused upon repairing my marriage, earning back the trust of my family and my community, and renewing my walk with the Lord," he said.
In 2006, Souder cited Jonathan Edwards and John Muir as influences on his life in a profile in World magazine (subscription required). "The root word is conserve," he said. "Jonathan Edwards was an early environmentalist who believed we should be stewards of what God created. John Muir, the founding influence on national parks, was an avid evangelical and quoted Bible verses all the time."
Though clearly a part of the Christian conservative movement, Mr. Souder does not follow a movement or party line. He voted against three of the four impeachment charges against President Clinton because he thought the president acted immorally but not impeachably. Back in the 1980s, as an aide to then U.S. Rep. Dan Coats, he helped Mr. Coats develop the notion that Christian conservatives need to compete with liberals in offering better ways to help people in need. Later, Texas Gov. George W. Bush would call it compassionate conservatism and take the idea all the way to the White House.
Souder was aide to former Dan Coats' who is running for his old Senate seat.