Friday, December 8, 2017

Let's Defeat Roy Moore

I have no idea how many people from Alabama read Augoeides, but as a dedicated fighter in the war against creeping theocracy, it behooves me to weigh in the special election for Alabama Senate which will take place next Tuesday, December 12th. Crazy theocrat Roy Moore is running on the Republican ticket against Democrat Doug Jones, an attorney best known for prosecuting two members of the Ku Klux Klan for perpetrating the infamous 16th Street Baptist Church bombing in Birmingham.

Alabama is a very conservative state and normally elects Republicans by large margins. Roy Moore isn't really a Republican, though, at least not a normal one. He is opposed to legal abortion and seems to be okay with kicking poor people, but that's where the similarities end. Moore is a theocrat, who believes that his fundamentalist interpretation of the Bible supersedes all existing law and that non-Christians should have no civil rights. That's flat-out insane, and has no place in American government.

I've spoken with a couple of conservatives who don't believe me when I make that assertion, but there's plenty of evidence out there. Moore was ordered to remove a Ten Commandments monument from his courtroom, refused, and had to be removed from office. Then, when he was elected to the Alabama Supreme Court, he directed the state to defy the Supreme Court ruling legalizing same-sex marriage. He had to be removed from office over that one, too. Is it completely out there for me to think that somebody who's already been removed from office twice shouldn't be allowed to run for anything ever again?

But is there more? Of course there is. Moore was a lecturer and co-author of a course on "civil government and public policy" sponsored by the Vision Forum, a Christian Reconstructionist organization. If Moore is going to convice anybody that he's not a supporter of their ideas, he needs to explain his involvement. And to be clear, I'm pretty sure that he won't, because I don't think he can.

On Wednesday, ThinkProgress published a piece examining "Law and Government: An Introductory Study Course," which promised that in "addition to learning concepts of civil government and public policy, students will be strengthened in their understanding of biblical principles which govern us and which point us to the Lawgiver who governs us all -- Jesus Christ." Moore was one of the lecturers and a co-author of the curriculum, which appears to be part of the Witherspoon School of Law and Public Policy, which is not a school in any formal sense, but rather a program of four-day seminars teaching a fundamentalist Christian interpretation of the law to male-only audiences.

The ThinkProgress coverage, which is worth reading in full, focuses largely on what this course teaches about women's rights, which is basically that feminism is "a false ideology" and a "heresy." But as Julie Ingersoll, a professor of religious studies at the University of North Florida in Jacksonville, explained to Salon, the implications of this curriculum go far beyond Moore's opinion of women's rights. This discovery is more evidence of Moore's links to Christian Reconstruction, a far-right, borderline theocratic ideology that has radical views on women's rights, religious freedom and the role of government.

Christian Reconstruction is an obscure far-right ideology developed by a man named Rousas John Rushdoony. In her book, "Building God's Kingdom: Inside the World of Christian Reconstruction," Ingersoll writes that Rushdoony "started a movement — Reconstruction, which sought to remake the whole of society to conform to his reading of the Bible — that didn't attract much support, but the movement's ideas became a driving force in American politics."

Moore doesn't identify openly as a Christian Reconstructionist, but then again, hardly anyone does. Rushdoony was, among other things, a Holocaust denier, a slavery apologist and a virulent racist who opposed racial integration and called for the death penalty for gay people. Openly calling oneself a follower of his is unwise even in the Deep South, and Christian fundamentalists understand this. But Rushdoony's ideas, Ingersoll told Salon, are pervasive in the Christian right.

The Reconstruction movement, Ingersoll explained, teaches that the role of civil government is to "to punish evildoers and provide for its own national defense," while everything else should fall under the authority of church and family. There is to be no business regulation, no civil rights protection, no welfare, no environmental regulation and most definitely no public education. All these things are understood as responsibilities belonging to churches or families, living in a world "where ultimately everyone will be a Christian" in, to be sure, the Reconstruction movement's "understanding of being a Christian."

The libertarian bent of so much evangelical thought, then, owes a lot to the pervasiveness of Reconstruction, even as the word itself has fallen out of fashion. But the curriculum that ThinkProgress dug up, Ingersoll noted, is "run by the Vision Forum, which is about as close to pure Rushdoony-style Christian Reconstructionism as you get." The Witherspoon program, she added, even included Rushdoony's best-known book, "The Biblical Philosophy of History," in its reading list.

"Punishing evildoers." That is, non-Christians, occultists, feminists, atheists and agnostics, the entire LGBTQ community, and even Christians who don't believe that hatred for all those groups is in line with the teachings of Jesus - you know, Christians who actually read what Jesus said instead of turning off their minds and taking the word of fundamentalist preachers with political agendas. I have a highly personal stake in this - the Christian Reconstructionist idea of "evildoers" includes me and my family. It probably includes everybody who reads Augoeides, too, since magick is plenty "evil" to these folks.

Above and beyond anything else, these beliefs render Moore unfit for public office. It's not that he's a Christian, it's that he's basically the most vile sort of Poor Oppressed Christian. He's going to deal with the imaginary persecution he faces by persecuting everyone who doesn't agree with him. And he's not going to pay attention to the law - he believes that his "religious freedom" trumps the law, despite rulings by the courts that have previously removed him from office twice for refusing to comply.

But there's more, and it just goes to show that despite their professions of virtue, the Poor Oppressed Christian demographic includes some of the most awful people on the planet. There is strong evidence that Moore molested a 14-year-old girl, as part of a pattern of dating underage teens when he was a district attorney in his 30's. With the resignation of Senator Al Franken yesterday over far less serious sexual harassment allegations than what Moore is facing, it's clear to me that Moore is basically "double-unqualified" to become a member of the Senate.

Moore has lied over and over again, claiming the molestation allegations are "fake news" in true Trumpian fashion. Some of the less awful Poor Oppressed Christians out there are still supporting him only because they believe his denials. The problem there is that those denials are coming apart as more and more evidence emerges. It no longer seems even marginally credible to me that this is some sort of political hatchet job, and if resignation over allegations of sexual harassment is the new normal, the Senate needs to refuse to seat Moore even if he wins the election.

Porter, Moore’s spokeswoman, has lied with abandon. She claims that on CNN, Nelson’s attorney, Gloria Allred, “wouldn’t deny” that Nelson’s “yearbook is a forgery.” That’s a gross misrepresentation: What Allred demanded was a Senate investigation, under penalty of perjury, in which independent experts would compare the yearbook to known samples of Moore’s handwriting.

Porter also claims that Corfman’s mother “disputes her arguments and her case.” “Her own mother doesn’t believe elements of her story,” says Porter. False again: Corfman’s mother confirms her daughter’s account and says she witnessed Moore meeting her daughter, contrary to his statements.

The biggest risk in Moore’s bold denials and countercharges is that new evidence, as it emerges, will shred them. That’s already happening. On Monday, the Washington Post reported that one accuser, Gibson, had just found her high school scrapbook in her attic. The scrapbook had a card from Moore, in which he had written “Happy graduation Debbie,” and, “I wanted to give you this card myself.”

Moore’s initial story to Hannity—“If we did go out on dates, then we did”—was compatible with the card. But Moore’s new story, that he didn’t know any of his accusers, wasn’t. So the card had to be attacked. Moore’s campaign strategist, Dean Young, went on CNN to dismiss the card as a meaningless, well-wishing note from a politician. Porter said that Moore was just a “family friend” and that Gibson’s story—that the card was more intimate—didn’t pass “the straight-face test.”

Unfortunately for Moore, such disputes can be adjudicated. The card was signed “Roy.” It was taped to a page in Gibson’s scrapbook. On another page in the same scrapbook was this note: “Wednesday night, 3-4-81. Roy S. Moore and I went out for the first time. We went out to eat at Catfish Cabin in Albertville. I had a great time.” If the card is real, then presumably the date between Moore and Gibson was real, too.

To be glib, who knew that when some of these folks talked about same-sex marriage as a slippery slope to pedophilia, they were talking about themselves? On a more serious note, I'm urging everyone in Alabama who doesn't want to see a child-molesting, self-righteous theocratic cultist in the Senate to get out and vote for Doug Jones on Tuesday. Let's defeat Roy Moore and hopefully kick him and his ideas out of our political system for good. Religious diversity is one of America's greatest strengths as a society, and we need to fight back diligently against anyone who wants to put and end to it.

Furthermore, if Moore does win, I am calling on the Senate to refuse to seat him, or at the very least launch a full investigation with the goal of expelling him should the charges against him prove to be true - and at this point, I'm pretty darn sure that they are. There was a time in the age before Trump when Republicans claimed to be the party of public morals. Many of them didn't live up to those ideas in private, but at least in public they made an effort. This would be an opportunity to show that they are capable of putting the country before their party.

Technorati Digg This Stumble Stumble

No comments: