Wednesday, December 13, 2017

We Defeated Roy Moore!

Okay, to be fair, Augoeides probably didn't have much to do with Doug Jones' win over Roy Moore in yesterday's special election for Alabama senate. I called for it and it happened, but I doubt many folks from Alabama even read this blog, let alone were motivated to vote for Jones by my article. At the same time, a win is a win, and there are few candidates I would be happier to see lose than Roy Moore. The guy is a crazy theocrat, dedicated to the notion that anybody who doesn't follow his version of fundamentalist Christianity should be denied basic human rights, should not be allowed to run for office, and so forth.

As I said back in November, even if the allegations that Moore molested a 14-year-old, dated 16-year-olds, and creeped on teenage girls at a local mall - as a district attorney in his 30's - were false, his theocratic beliefs render him entirely unfit to hold public office. That, and he's been removed from office as a judge twice already for refusing to abide by the law. A common-sense law that would have prevented this whole situation from arising again would be to bar anyone who was formerly removed from office from running again. But even that would probably be controversial in today's political climate.

And speaking of today's political climate, when we talk about polarization between the parties, it should be clear that much of what is driving that polarization is fundamentalist Christianity. Check out what Roy Moore's brother had to say about Moore's defeat.

One would think, given Roy Moore’s record—being removed from office in ignominy both times he was elected to the Alabama Supreme Court, reportedly being banned from a mall for creeping out teenage girls, becoming the first Republican in 25 years to lose a Senate race in Alabama—that he is the “black sheep” of the Moore family. This appears not to be the case:

Roy Moore's brother Jerry Moore spoke to @NPRDebElliott: "It might not happen on this earth right now, but Doug Jones will pay for what he’s saying. And them Democrat people that’s out there and those Republicans in Washington. They’re going to have to answer to God.”

— Arnie Seipel, NPR (@NPRnie) December 13, 2017

So to be clear, "Democrat people" - presumably Democratic voters - are evil according to Jerry Moore, and will be punished by God. The idea that it is somehow sinful or evil to vote for Democrats is quite frankly totally bizarre, but a lot of these fundamentalists seem to believe it. When political operatives talk about "demonization," they usually are talking about opposition research to dig up dirt on their opponents, and negative campaigning tactics like attack ads. But way too many of the fundamentalists apparently mean it literally.

The reason it's bizarre is this - modern fundamentalism has twisted the Christian message such that the only "sins" it pays much attention to are homosexuality and abortion. These are issues that Jesus does not address anywhere in the Gospels. What he does talk about, all the time, is having compassion for the poor. So I could just as easily make the argument that it's sinful to vote for the party that is most determined to cut taxes for people who are already rich, and dismantle programs that help the less fortunate.

But I won't, because politics and religion should be two entirely separate things. Supporting current abortion law doesn't mean you're "pro-abortion." It means that you're opposed to an abortion ban - and there are good reasons to oppose those, because they create all sorts of problems in countries that have them. Supporting the rights of same-sex couples to legally marry doesn't mean you're "pro-homosexual." Nobody is ever going to force a church to marry a same-sex couple. This is civil marriage we're talking about, which has to do with things like tax benefits and has nothing to do with any marriage a church might or might not conduct.

But here's why the Poor Oppressed Christians don't see that. On a basic level, they can't comprehend the idea that people who disagree with their dogma and theology have the same religious freedoms as they do. Or, even if they do comprehend it, they find it insulting and "oppressive" to have to share a society with people who don't believe in every single thing that they do. And frankly, that's just tough for them. America is a religiously diverse society by design, and this is a strength, not a weakness.

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