Kokomo Common Councilman Greg Jones, R-4th District, has announced his resignation after Facebook posts from 2015 were uncovered this week showing him calling Muslims “Goat-Humpers” and referring to Islam as “a Theocratic Moon Cult.”
Jones, who was sworn into office Jan. 1, wrote in a resignation letter given to the Howard County clerk’s office today that he has “come to the conclusion that the best way for me to continue to serve our community is for me to step down effective immediately as your District 4 Councilman.”
His resignation comes after the story evolved this week into a statewide controversy distributed by the Associated Press and chronicled in segments on Indianapolis TV stations. Jones’ comments were also publicly condemned by members of the Islamic Association of Kokomo and the Kokomo Pride Youth Group.
The Tribune was first tipped off Monday to a post from Jones made on June 11, 2015. His comment came above a story from www.conservativeinfidel.com titled “FILTHY MUSLIM SUPREMACISTS Get Payoff From Empire State Bui…”; the rest of the headline is obscured, and the link is now dead.
“Islam is not a Religion it is a Theocratic Moon Cult,” wrote Jones on his private Facebook page.
“We should not give anything, especially the right to enforce their laws, to these 7th Century Goat-Humpers who have not figured out it is the 21st century.”
Jones – whose social media presence during 2015 exhibited a bevy of anti-Muslim and anti-LGBTQ beliefs that included him calling homosexuality “a crime against nature” – told the Tribune in an interview Monday that he has evolved and no longer espouses his previous opinions.
Nonetheless, he decided today to resign, saying he hopes “the people will see to forgive me for my sins of the past.”
At the time of his posts, Jones was a Republican candidate seeking the Kokomo Common Council’s 4th District seat; he had defeated opponent Darrell Karnes in the Republican primary one month prior. Jones would lose to incumbent Democrat Donnie Haworth in November 2015.
Jones, however, rebounded in 2019, returning to the electoral process and defeating Haworth for the 4th District seat with 54% of the vote in November. He was sworn into office New Year’s Day.
“Citizens of Kokomo, I come before you with a broken heart and a contrite spirit. My actions of the past are unacceptable for one who has been selected to represent my district,” wrote Jones in his resignation letter.
Making his situation even more untenable was the fact the Islamic Association of Kokomo resides in the 4th District.
“I owe all of Kokomo an apology for the embarrassment that I have caused our fine city. My comments are uncalled for an inappropriate. I hope that the people will see to forgive me for my sins of the past. I realize I still have room for personal growth. I am a work in progress and will continue to right my wrongs.”
Jones later said he doesn’t want to be a distraction to the council.
Howard County Republican Party Chairwoman Jamie Bolser said the party will call a caucus within 10 days and hold it within 30 days to fill the 4th District seat.
“Hopefully by Mr. Jones resigning it can bring healing to this unfortunate situation,” said Bolser. “I believe Kokomo to be an inclusive community with opportunities for all regardless of race, religion, or personal preferences. We are all stronger when we are working together.”
A statement from the Howard County Democratic Party said they were “horrified” by Jones’ comments and that they hoped he would go through with reaching out to members of the Muslim and LGBTQ+ community.
“The Kokomo community deserves leaders who value them and respect them,” the party’s statement reads. “We are proud of the many who stepped up and voiced their distaste for what he said, and from that courage we saw change. If our community members continue to speak out on issues they care about, we will continue to see a brighter future for District 4, and for all of Kokomo.”
Jones’ resignation even garnered national attention, with the Washington D.C.-based Council on American-Islamic relations, the nation’s largest Muslim civil right and advocacy organization, welcoming his departure from the council.
“We welcome the decision by Mr. Jones to resign from his position on the council and hope this incident can become a learning opportunity for the entire community,” said CAIR National Communications Director Ibrahim Hooper in a statement today.
The group said in a media release that it has “reported an unprecedented spike in bigotry targeting American Muslims, immigrants and members of other minority groups since the election of Donald Trump as president.”
Jones’ social media comments also sparked criticism from local groups, including the Islamic Association of Kokomo.
Seyed Zarabadi represented the association in an interview this week with the Tribune’s newsgathering partner, WTHR, asking: “How could people actually support him if he doesn’t know his people?”
“Words sometimes, it’s not enough. We believe that he’s sincere, but you’ve got to back it up with some action,” added Zarabadi prior to Jones’ resignation.
“We have been here for the past 30 years, working here, contributing here, being with people. We are with people. And he doesn’t know we exist?”
Nonetheless, the two sides had expressed mutual interest in meeting before Friday’s development removed Jones from the council.
Also reaching out to Jones publicly was the Kokomo Pride Youth Group, which posted an open letter on its Facebook page that it later distributed to the Tribune
Calling Jones’ comments “reprehensible,” the group went on to invite Jones and Kokomo Mayor Tyler Moore to meet with KPYG members and local leaders of Kokomo’s Muslim community.
“We would like to view this invitation as a sincere offer of friendship and understanding and not as any sort of political gain. Our intent is not to beat a dead horse but rather to inform and grow together,” noted the KPYG.
Paul Novak, director of public relations for the group, notified the Tribune on Wednesday that both Moore and Jones replied to the letter and said they would be scheduling a meeting with the KPYG “in the near future.”
Moore, in an email Friday, wrote that he was not surprised by Jones’ resignation and, echoing Bolser’s comments, that he hoped a time of healing could now begin.
“Kokomo has made great strides to be an inclusive community with opportunities for all regardless of race, religion, or personal preferences, so my hope is that this incident does not detract from those efforts,” he said. “My prayers go out to those in the community who have been affected by this—including Mr. Jones and his family.”
A call placed to the number listed on Jones’ candidacy documents was not answered. A message requesting comment was not immediately returned. The number listed on Jones’ page on the city’s website has been disconnected.