Dispatches from the Creation Wars

There’s a rather amusing brouhaha going on in Alabama where a Republican candidate for governor named Bradley Byrne is having to assure voters that he believes every word of the Bible to be literally true. It all started back in November when an Alabama newspaper published an article about how many of the Republican candidates for governor were actually running to the right of Roy Moore — something I would scarcely have thought possible!

Here’s one example of a candidate actually going further than Roy Moore — a man I unapologetically call a theocrat — would go in imposing Christianity in America:

But some of Moore’s fellow GOP candidates in the 2010 gubernatorial race have even more conservative views regarding religious displays on government property.

“We welcome people of all faiths, but at the same time, the standard for America is under the Judeo-Christian principles,” said state Treasurer Kay Ivey.

Only Jewish and Christian religious displays should be allowed on government property, she said.

Such a limitation would go too far, according to Moore, who said the key question is not what religion the display represents but whether the display breaks First Amendment rules: “I think you should allow any display that’s not an establishment of religion.”

The paper surveyed all the Republican candidates and characterized Byrne’s responses this way:

Most of the candidates also said they accept the Bible as absolute fact.

“I believe in the literal interpretation, that the holy Bible is the inspired word of God. Period,” James said.

Byrne was an exception, saying it is unimportant whether some details of the Bible, such as people living for hundreds of years, are factually correct.

“I think there are parts of the Bible that are meant to be literally true and parts that are not,” Byrne said.

Now, to any sane person — including Christians — this should be an entirely uncontroversial statement. No one really believes every word of the Bible to be literally true. Even a fundamentalist can recognize poetic or figurative language when it’s obvious. When the book of Isiah says that the valleys sang and the trees clapped, even the staunchest fundamentalist does not believe that trees literally began applauding.

But among the booboisee (thank you, HL) in Alabama, even that obviously true statement addles their brains and puts them into “you ain’t from around here, are ya boy” mode. Byrne had to schedule a press conference at — I swear I’m not making this up — a Piggly Wiggly store to make sure that everyone knew he was a Good Bible Believing Christian:

According to a local news report, Byrne also used the press conference to clear up the misunderstanding over his views on the Bible. He insisted he had been misquoted.

“I believe the Bible is true,” he said. “Every word of it.”

Now here’s the punchline:

After The Huntsville Times ran a story about the news conference, several visitors to the paper’s Web site made it clear they would not support someone with suspect views about the Bible, regardless of the candidate’s positions on other, arguably more pertinent, issues.

“Just got a call from a person at my Church letting me know about this,” one commenter said. “My family will not be shopping at Ragland Piggly Wiggly stores anymore or anything else they own. I don’t shop at places that think it is OK to stand next to people who don’t believe the Bible is all true.”

A more optimistic person than me might conclude that the existence of such people is proof that God loves me and wants me perpetually amused.