Dispatches from the Creation Wars

Judge Roy Moore Rides Again?

Howard Friedman has a post on his excellent Religion Clause blog about Roy Moore’s address to the Southern Baptist Convention’s Pastor’s Conference recently. He cites the Florida Baptist Witness’ report on Moore’s speech, which contains this bizarre statement:

“There are consequences to what is happening in America today,” he said. The separation of church and state, a concept that has no basis in any U.S. founding documents – including the Constitution – does not mean a “separation of God and government,” Moore said.

In fact, the doctrine is “biblically based,” he continued, noting that in the Israelite nation God established the priestly and government functions to be separate – with the tribe of Levi handling the role of priests and the tribe of Judah in the role of civil leadership.

“God chose two separate bloodlines to keep those jurisdictions separate,” Moore explained. “The separation of church and state mandates an acknowledgement of God.”

I think we’ve all heard the ridiculous “separation of church and state isn’t in the constitution, it’s in the communist manifesto” argument. But this is the first time I’ve heard “separation of church and state is not in the constitution, it’s in the bible.” The mind absolutely boggles. Friedman also points out, as I have before, that Moore is likely to run for governor of Alabama in 2006 and, possibly, for President in 2008. That would certainly be a problem for the Republican party because, while the serious religious righters may embrace Moore, everyone else thinks he’s a nutball.

Comments

  1. #1 KipEsquire
    June 30, 2005

    You know he was also in the WSJ today re: “In God We Trust.” I blogged about it here.

  2. #2 GeneralZod
    June 30, 2005

    Oooh! I hope he does run for prez! Then maybe even the Democrats can get their act together long enough to squeak out a victory.

  3. #3 decrepitoldfool
    June 30, 2005

    Roy Moore = Nehemiah Scudder? (shudder!)

  4. #4 raj
    June 30, 2005

    I’m actually shocked that someone else is aware of a character (Nehemiah Scudder) from a story that Heinlein never wrote.

  5. #5 Bill Ware
    June 30, 2005

    I found this interesting note about Judge Moore at the Southern Poverty Law Center site.

    In 2002, Moore wrote a lengthy concurrence in a custody case involving a lesbian mother. After describing homosexuality as “abhorrent, immoral, detestable, a crime against nature,” Moore asserted that “[t]he State carries the power of the sword, that is, the power to prohibit [homosexual] conduct with physical penalties, such as confinement and even execution. It must use that power to prevent the subversion of children toward this lifestyle.”

  6. #6 John
    June 30, 2005

    Bill,

    That quote from Roy Moore, unless it is out of context, has to be the most outrageous thing I have ever heard from a judge. He is no judge at all. That quote from a man purporting to be a Christian, is blasphemy.

  7. #7 raj
    June 30, 2005

    John, the quotation is obviously out of context, but it is in keeping with his opinion in the case. I am familiar with the opinion.

    One of the things that one needs to recognize is that judges in more than a few jurisdictions, Alabama included, are elected. They are nothing more than politicians in black robes. It is apparent that Moore discovered that he could advance himself by appealing to the basest instincts of his electorate.

  8. #8 Ed Brayton
    July 1, 2005

    The quote from Moore is not out of context at all. In fact, the context only confirms his almost maniacal hatred of gay people. He goes on for page after page about the evils of being gay – in a case where the sexual orientation of the mother wasn’t even at issue. I’ve got the whole decision saved on my hard drive and it’s frightening to read, believe me.

  9. #9 Michelangelo
    July 1, 2005

    This Moore guy is like herpes. Yeesh.

    I do doubt, however, that the Republicans would ever actually nominate him, even if he does throw his hat in for 2008. He would have to run as an independent, which would probably cause some divisions within the party, since the more reasonable among them would have to crap all over the Christian Right in their efforts to distance themselves from Moore.

    It would certainly be interesting!

  10. #10 raj
    July 1, 2005

    Ed, please don’t misunderstand what I was saying. The quotation was “out of context” because it was taken from a much longer text. The much longer text is actually much worse–in grossen und ganzen (German intentional)–than the part that was quoted.

    I guess I’ll have to be more expansive in the future. But I do post on a number of websites, and I would have believed that the context of my post would have been understood. I apologize if it was not.

    I did not mean it to s

  11. #11 Ed Brayton
    July 1, 2005

    Oh, I understood what you meant, raj. There is a literal meaning to “out of context” – meaning part of a larger text – and I knew that’s what you meant. But I think everyone else was using “out of context” to mean when the context changes the meaning or interpretation. That’s what I was responding to.

  12. #12 Jim Babka
    July 1, 2005

    Ed, The separation of church and state _is_ in the Bible, see I Samuel 15, though it is inferred and not explicit. The more precise way of explaining the principle is that church and state had different spheres of authority and weren’t allowed to cross each other’s lines.

  13. #13 John
    July 1, 2005

    All right, I’m thoroughtly confused.

    Roy Moore is saying that God imposed separation of church and state, and for that reason there should NOT be a separation of church and state in the US?

  14. #14 Jim Babka
    July 1, 2005

    It sure appears that way.

  15. #15 Ed Brayton
    July 1, 2005

    Jim Babka wrote:

    Ed, The separation of church and state _is_ in the Bible, see I Samuel 15, though it is inferred and not explicit. The more precise way of explaining the principle is that church and state had different spheres of authority and weren’t allowed to cross each other’s lines.

    As a general rule, one can infer nearly anything from scripture. You could also point to the New Testament and “render unto casaer what is caesar’s”. But certainly the Old Testament law did not separate church and state in the same sense that we do today, nor was it ever intended to do so. The laws enforced in ancient Israel were theological laws, not civil laws. The law prescribed not merely civil and criminal matters, but timing and modes of worship and so forth. It simply is not close to the modern conception of church/state separation.

  16. #16 Matthew
    July 1, 2005

    1st Samuel 15 is Samuel telling Saul that god told him to “go and smite Am’alek, and utterly destroy all that they have; do not spare them, but kill both man and woman, infant and suckling, ox and sheep, camel and ass.”

  17. #17 Jim Babka
    July 2, 2005

    Ed, It’s interesting that you chose “render on to Caesar,” because that’s part of a phrase that goes thusly, “Render on to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and unto God, the things that are God’s.” This is actually another piece of the puzzle I spoke of earlier when I wrote, “The more precise way of explaining the principle is that church and state had different spheres of authority and weren’t allowed to cross each other’s lines.” Obviously, a comment on a blog isn’t supposed to be a white paper, complete with footnotes to explain the complete argument, so… thanks for pointing out another passage.

    The difference between making scripture say what you want it to say, and actually taking it for what it really says is not unlike the problem we face in getting those black robed folks to read the Constitution for what it really says, instead of what their poor, liberal, social-engineering minds wished it said.

  18. #18 GH
    July 2, 2005

    ‘The difference between making scripture say what you want it to say, and actually taking it for what it really says is not unlike the problem we face in getting those black robed folks to read the Constitution for what it really says, instead of what their poor, liberal, social-engineering minds wished it said.

    That was sarcasm correct? Everyone interprets everything through their own filter. To presume YOUR reading of ‘scripture’ or the Constitution is superior to theirs is no different from what you accuse them of doing.

  19. #19 ts
    July 5, 2005

    Lee Harris, at
    http://www.techcentralstation.com/070105E.html
    says that

    a) “the separation of church and state is a purely Christian idea”

    b) the Constititution contains a “separation of church and state clause”

    c) because of (a), “Those who advocate the separation of church and state are trying to impose Jesus’s teachings on their community”, and therefore

    d) “and if this doesn’t violate the separation of church and state clause of the Constitution, what would?”

    In other words, those who advocate a principle that, according to Harris, is contained in the Constitution, are violating the principle by doing so.

    This just reinforces my belief that religion, especially Christianity, is inconsistent with rational coherent thinking.

  20. #20 Bill Ware
    July 5, 2005

    Well, raj and Ed, glad you straightened that “out of context” thing out. I thought at first that the SPL Center might be showing some bias, now it sounds like they were being rather restrained. Thanks.

  21. #21 Matthew
    July 6, 2005

    Spam filters not working Ed?

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