Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore first got attention outside his state when he put a Ten Commandments monument at the courthouse without telling or getting approval from his fellow judges. Despite a federal court order it had to go, he insisted on keeping it in place, and wound up getting removed as Chief Justice. After the U.S. Supreme Court legalized gay marriage everywhere, Moore issued an administrative order telling Alabama justices that they had a “ministerial duty” not to issue marriage licenses to gay. So not for one minute do I believe his assurances in a Vox interview that he’s 100 percent for freedom of religion and the First Amendment.
According to Moore’s interview:
- The First Amendment is a Christian principle. It’s based on Jesus’ advice to “render under Caesar the things that are Caesar’s.
- He totally supports freedom of religion and the First Amendment.
- But it’s obvious the Constitution was written in the belief “Christianity ought to be favored by the State so far as was not incompatible with the private rights of conscience.”
- “There are communities under Sharia law right now in our country. Up in Illinois. Christian communities; I don’t know if they may be Muslim communities.” But he can’t remember which ones they are.
He is by the way, the front runner in the primary, which astonished the writer. As someone who lived in the “lower Alabama” of the Florida panhandle, it doesn’t surprise me at all. Support for Christian theocracy is a thing. Under other circumstances I’d rejoice that Mo Brooks, the guy who thinks pre-existing conditions only happen to bad people, looks like a loser, but Moore is not anyone I want in a national seat.
Taking his points one after the other:
- If separation of church and state is so Christian, why did organized Christianity ignore it for most of the past two millennia? Christians have used the power of the state to not only persecute other faiths, but to turn on whichever sects were out of power or opposed to the government (something I discussed here).
- Given his past actions I don’t believe for a minute that he supports freedom of religion in anything close to how most people define the term.
- When the Constitution was passed many Americans saw it as very anti-Christian. No reference to God establishing America. No religious tests for public office. The First Amendment offering freedom of religion to all. Joseph Story (whom Moore quotes extensively) thought it appropriate to promote Christianity, but Thomas Jefferson thought very differently; James Madison didn’t think even the Congressional chaplain was constitutional. Thomas Paine considered religion as much bollocks as he did the divine right of kings. And more importantly (opinions are one thing, Constitutional text is another), there’s nothing in the Constitution that shows any sign of favoring Christianity or justifying government showing it favor.
- Moore obviously doesn’t think that people whose religious faith (or non-belief) is compatible with gay marriage should be able to exercise their faith unhampered by the state.
- No, no American communities are run by sharia law. Moore is bearing false witness against his Muslim neighbors. And like a number of Christians he seems fine with theocracy as long as it’s not Muslim — Moore believes Islam is a false religion incompatible with American values.
Otherwise, Moore’s a generic Republican (even his theocracy isn’t out of line with the rest of the party): Pro Trump’s wall, pro missile defense, anti-activist judges (apparently his own behavior doesn’t count), balance the budget, anti-Obamacare, anti-gays or trans in the military, anti-United Nations.
I realize my post isn’t going to affect Moore’s chances, but I’ve been arguing with theocrats like Moore most of my life. Seeing another one in the Senate repels and alarms me, though it doesn’t surprise me. And while it’s possible he has some rationalization of how his support for Christianity and opposition to Islam does not conflict with the First Amendment, I’m just going with “he’s lying.”
As you can see from her expression, Trixie’s disturbed about Moore too.