By Glynn Wilson –
Editor’s Note: Wilson is a native citizen of Alabama, who grew up a Baptist, but got a college education and has more than 35 years of experience as a journalist, operating under the free speech and press clauses of the First Amendment to the United States Constitution.
THEODORE, Ala. — Roy Moore emerged from hiding on his embattled rural farm in Etowah County after facing charges in the national news for the past three weeks of sexually molesting nine teenaged girls and told a packed congregation of Southern Baptists that he was “not guilty” of the charges.
They embraced him as one of their own, and vowed to turn out on December 12 to vote fervently for his election, even though he has been elected and removed from office twice before.
Like the fiery “fighting little judge” George C. Wallace, Moore took his case to the people out in the hinterlands of Alabama, where the red carpet and rows of pews all seem to look the same.
“Let me state once again. I do not know any of these women. Did not date any of these women; have not engaged in any sexual misconduct with anyone,” he said. “It’s not only odd … it’s simply dirty politics.”
“It’s also a sign of our times,” he said. “We’re quick to turn to fables.”
He claimed the attacks on him have not only been “false and numerous, but malicious.”
He said he’s been attacked for his judicial decisions, some of which got him thrown off the state Supreme Court, twice, as well as his “property taxes” and his salary at the Foundation for Moral Law.
“They say I got a million dollars,” he said. “I didn’t.”
“And sexual immorality now,” he went on. “The last one hurts more than all…“
Moore continued by saying not once in his 40 years in politics had he ever been charged with “sexual impropriety.”
He claimed that his prosecution of people for drug crimes as assistant district attorney is behind the attacks.
As he wound down his political sermon, Moore said, “I don’t wish this on anyone.”
“If I had known the lies, the deceit, the things I would face in this campaign, I would not have gotten into it, probably,” he admitted. “But when you get into something that god means you to get into, you have no choice but to live these thing out.”
At the top of the hour and in the beginning of his political sermon, which some people think was an egregious, flagrant violation of the American Constitutional principle of the separation of church and state, Moore quoted the American writer Thomas Paine, whose written arguments are credited with swaying public opinion against the British monarchy.
“These are the times that try men’s souls. The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of their country; but he that stands by it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman,” he said, as if he was somehow involved in a battle equivalent to the American Revolution itself and not just another political campaign in Alabama.
“Tyranny, like hell, is not easily conquered; yet we have this consolation with us, that the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph. What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly.”
“I feel my soul is being tried,” he said. “It is a time when the soul of this nation is being tried.”
He admitted that his campaign is an uphill battle, since he has “opposition from both parties.” His opponent in the special election is Birmingham attorney Doug Jones, who has raised more money for television ads and has a larger and better organized ground campaign. But even the leaders of the Republican party have asked him to step down, including Alabama’s own Senator Richard Shelby of Tuscaloosa, who has already cast a write-in vote for another candidate.
“I feel comfortable talking in church because I can talk about both parties,” Moore said in jest. “Not only am I being opposed by the Democrats who want to push a liberal agenda. I’m being opposed by the Washington establishment who don’t want to change.”
Who Are ‘They?”
“I’m still leading,” he claimed. “They’ve tried unsuccessfully to change that. When I say they, who are they?
“They’re liberals. They don’t want conservative values. They’re the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgenders who want to change our culture,” he went on. “They’re socialists who want to change our way of life — putting man above god, and that government is our god. They’re the Washington establishment. They simply want to keep their jobs … keep everything the same so they don’t lose their positions and their power, their prestige.”
He told a strange story about a guy named Oscar D. Davis and made a joke about this guy they called Odd, or O.D.D. He then said it was “odd” that no one ever brought up these allegations of sexual misconduct in his 40 years in politics.
At that point he was interrupted by someone in the audience, who said: “But the whole town (of Gadsden) knew you did it. The entire town. All the girls are lying? Why would they lie?”
Moore then urged security for the event, members of the Mobile County Constables office — who all seemed to be supporters of Roy Moore, nodding yes at everything he said — to “get them out.” It was reminscent of the Trump campaign, when hecklers were physically removed, some of them beaten up by the angry mobs.
Another heckler who turned out to be a fictional character from ABC’s “Jimmy Kimmel Show” named Jake Byrd, played by comedian and writer Tony Barbieri, wearing a pro-Moore T-shirt with “Gimme Moore” on the front, interrupted Moore’s speech when he was kicked out for being too fervent and vocal in ‘amening” all Moore’s pronouncements.
“That’s a man’s man,” he said loudly as he was being escorted out of the church, filled to capacity of about 200. “Does that look like the face of a molester?”
“They’re kicking out your number one fan, judge,” he said. “I’m your number one fan judge. Number one. Because I believe in the judge. And I don’t believe the ladies who are … does that look like the face of someone who hits on teenage girls?”
When things quieted back down, Moore said people want to know about the “true issues,” and claimed Russian meddling in the election of the United States was not one of them. “People want to know about immigration, about health care, the military, about taxes.”
He said the other side wants to hide its position and doesn’t want to talk about those “true issues,” including “transgender people in the military and bathrooms.”
He claimed Doug Jones would not protect the Baptist “culture” because it is considered “discriminatory,” even though Doug Jones has repeatedly said in the campaign that he is in fact a church going Christian too.
“Christians don’t hate people … because they are different,” Moore said. “But they do hate sin.”
“Christians don’t cleave to their Bible because they are bitter,” he said. “They cleave to their Bibles because it is the word of god and is above everything else they know.”
He went on and on about the right to bear arms as a “god given right.” Then as if it was an afterthought, he said, “And also because it’s recognized in the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution.”
In other words, god gave us the guns, and the Constitution came later. Is that the position of the National Rifle Association or the right-wing militia movement?
He said he would repeal Obamacare, but the “establishment” Republicans he claims to be better than have already tried to do that, three times this summer, and failed.
“I would repeal it tomorrow,” he said, as if he could do that all by himself.
Moore continued by attacking immigrants, saying he would vote to reduce the number of immigrants coming into the country and allow only those based on “merit.”
“On abortion,” he said: “I would not fund Planned Parenthood.”
He also said he would work to “overturn Roe vs. Wade,” which is the established law of the land giving women the right to choose. It can only be changed by the U.S. Supreme Court, which has voted on numerous occasions — even with conservative majorities — to keep it in place.
He said the Supreme Court has not decided on transgender rights, “and even if they did they would be wrong, wrong, wrong.”
“As for liberal judges,” he said: “Judges who put themselves above the Constitution should be impeached.”
He said he had some experience with that, but did not mention that he was in fact removed from office, twice, for putting his religious views over the Constitution and court rulings by judges with a higher authority than his. So in a way he was impeached for putting himself above the Constitution. He just believes as long as you are a white, conservative, Southern Baptist, Christian judge, you can impose your religious beliefs and values upon everybody else.
Apparently his faithful flock will turn out in droves to vote for him on that basis.
“We place judges on a pedestal to which they do not belong,” he said.
Yet he places himself on a pedestal above everybody else, including all other judges.
He said Congress should stand up and “stop this apostasy.” Apostasy is the formal disaffiliation from, or abandonment or renunciation of a religion by a person. So the U.S. Supreme Court, in Roy Moore’s mind, is guilty of “apostasy” because it has issued rulings interpreting laws in a way that runs contrary to Moore’s interpretation of his religion.
Separation of Church and State
Yet the First Amendment doesn’t just protect Moore’s Southern Baptist denomination’s interpretation of what religion ought to be. It protects all religious freedom, even for Methodists, Episcopalians, Catholics, Buddhists, Hindus, Muslims, even Mormons.
Moore ended his political sermon in the church by saying no politician in the country is talking about “morality” while “people are getting killed on our streets … aborting children … dishonoring their parents, etc.”
“We don’t know how to stop it,” he said. “We say take away more guns. People get killed with cars. Are we going to take away cars?”
He doesn’t seem to know the difference between a traffic accident and mass murder with a semi-automatic assault rifle. This is who they want in the Senate?
“We’ve got to go back to the idea that god is a part of this culture,” he said. “Not just any god, but the god of the holy scriptures.”
He vowed to stand with the people of Alabama and their values and principles.
“The reason they don’t want me in Washington is that they don’t want to hear about god,” he said.
After the political sermon was over, Moore refused to take questions from the free press, and hid in an undisclosed part of the church. The national, state and local press corps had the church surrounded, but he seemed to disappear like a ghost.
On Twitter the day of the event, he was vowing to go to Washington and “take god with me,” as if god lived in Roy Moore’s house in Etowah County, Alabama, and no one else in the country understands what god is, only judge Roy Moore.
When I posted about this on Facebook, many of my followers were appalled at this blatant violation of the separation of church and state. But the same people who will turn out in droves to vote for Roy Moore also voted to elect President Donald Trump, who has already issued an executive order to “destroy” the Johnson Amendment, which prevents religious groups and churches from engaging in political activities.
“I will get rid of and totally destroy the Johnson Amendment and allow our representatives of faith to speak freely and without fear of retribution,” the president said during the campaign and since his election.
One of the most immoral souls to be elected to any office anywhere, Trump has said that freedom of a religion is a “sacred right,” but that it is also “under threat.”
“And the world is under serious, serious threat, in so many different ways and I’ve never seen it so much and so openly,” Trump has said. “The world is in trouble. We’re going to straighten it out.”
Him and judge Roy Moore.
Repealing the law has long been a top cause of religious conservatives, who strongly backed Trump’s White House bid.
The Johnson Amendment is a provision in the U.S. tax code that prohibits all 501(c)(3) non-profit organizations from endorsing or opposing political candidates. These organizations are the most common type of nonprofit, ranging from charitable foundations to universities and churches. The amendment is named for then-Senator Lyndon B. Johnson of Texas, who introduced it in July 1954.
Efforts to repeal the Johnson Amendment have been criticized since that would open the door for political campaign contributions to be funneled through churches and other non-profit organizations as tax-deductible, and in a way that would be hidden from the public, exempting them from other campaign finance laws. It would allow preachers and churches to become gigantic partisan super PACs. Churches are exempt from reporting requirements already.
Polls have shown that majorities of both the general public and the clergy oppose churches endorsing political candidates, but that has long been the practice in Alabama, especially among Southern Baptists like those of the Magnolia Baptist Church where Moore spoke Wednesday night.
Of course a presidential order is not the same as a law, so Congress would have to vote to repeal the Johnson Amendment. If Moore is elected, he could very well be the deciding vote in the Senate.
If that’s something people oppose, they might want to get involved in the campaign to elect Doug Jones instead.
© 2017, Glynn Wilson. All rights reserved.