May 4, 2014

Alabama Supreme Court Justice Seeks Christian Theocracy

English: August 2003 rally in front of the Ala...
August 2003 rally in front of the Alabama state judicial building in support of Roy Moore. Taken from the Re-taking America website, copyrighted by Kelly McGinley at Re-Taking America, from whom permission has been received to license this material under the GNU Free Documentation License. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
When defenders of church-state separation in the United States speak of theocracy, we are typically accused of either not adequately understanding the meaning of the word or of exaggerating for effect. Nobody really wants to turn the U.S. into a theocracy, we are told. There are already many protections in place to prevent something like this from happening. We are merely making mountains out of molehills. I'm not so sure.

If you have paid much attention to church-state issues over the past decade, you will probably recognize the name Roy Moore. He is now serving as the Chief Justice of Alabama's Supreme Court, but he made a name for himself primarily over his refusal to comply with a federal court's order that he remove the unconstitutional ten commandments monument he placed in the lobby of the Alabama courthouse.

It was this refusal that led to Moore's removal from the Alabama Supreme Court in 2003, the very same court over which he now presides. In addition to running for governor of Alabama, Moore also has a reputation for making bigoted public statements about LGBT persons and promoting a Christian theocracy in the U.S.

It now appears that violating the U.S. Constitution is not enough for Moore. According to Brett Wilkins' article in Digital Journal:
Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore has been traveling the nation spreading his message that America has always been a Christian nation that has "lost its way" and that the Judeo-Christian deity figure 'God' should reign supreme over the US government and judicial system.
This may sound like the same revisionist history you have heard countless times from Christian extremists on the political right, but do not be fooled. Moore appears to be even more extreme in where he is willing to take this rhetoric. Wilkins reports that Moore "received a standing ovation after recently advocating for a Christian theocracy in the United States and suggesting that the First Amendment only applies to Christians." Let that sink in for a moment.

On January 17, Moore spoke to Pro-Life Mississippi's Pastor for Life luncheon (see video here). According to David Badash's article for The New Civil Rights Movement, Moore explained that the First Amendment only offers protection to Christians and tossed some anti-LGBT bigotry to a receptive audience.
Standing beside a monument of the Ten Commandments, Judge Moore said, “I love that song you started with — ‘Onward Christian Soldiers’ — because we sang that at the United States Military Academy over and over and over, in chapel services … Our motto, everything was about God. Today, they have two men getting married in chapel,” Moore lamented. He paused to let his anti-gay attack sink in. “So, excuse my fervor,” he added.
I cannot say that it surprised me to learn that Moore's comments received a standing ovation here in Mississippi. But while I was not surprised to hear this, that does not mean I am not seriously disappointed by it.

Interestingly, Moore has managed to find an audience for his theocratic platform outside the bible belt. During a recent appearance in Tacoma, WA, Moore was quoted as saying:
Without God there would be no freedom to believe what you want.
It appears that these views found some support even in Washington State, a considerably more progressive place than Alabama or Mississippi.

Blogger Michael Stone (Progressive Secular Humanist) summed up my reaction to Moore quite well when he wrote:
Judge Moore’s ignorant “fervor” is dangerous. This man has no business presiding over any court of law. The fact that Moore is once again Chief Justice of Alabama’s Supreme Court should be alarming to every reasonable American.
I agree. Unfortunately, plenty of Americans are not particularly reasonable. And this is why I am glad to see that Moore's comments are receiving critical attention not just in the atheist blogosphere but in the larger arena of political blogs. Maybe the mainstream news media will eventually decide that Christian extremism is a threat worth covering.

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