Roy Moore, the former Alabama Supreme Court chief justice who was removed not once but twice from office for discriminatory lawlessness, has handily won the Republican primary runoff to fill Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ vacant Senate seat. Moore, who said some form of the word “God” at least 22 times during his eight-minute victory speech, triumphed despite the unusual backing President Donald Trump lent his mainstream Republican opponent and despite — or probably because of — his own horrid history of doing and saying some of the most hateful and bigoted things, usually in the name of “God.”
Before we ponder what this all means, here’s a quick Roy Moore primer for the unfamiliar:
For starters, Moore repeatedly promoted the baseless racist conspiracy theory that launched Donald Trump’s political career — that former president Barack Obama isn’t an American citizen. He has also supported the nation’s most draconian anti-immigrant law — even while acknowledging its unconstitutionality — and strongly opposes allowing the 800,000 or so DACA recipients to remain in the United States. In fact, Moore has declared that “there’s no such thing as a Dreamer.” He does, however, believe there is a such thing as “red” and “yellow” people, or Native and Asian Americans to the rest of us.
Moore is a “God”-obsessed evangelical fundamentalist who has often advocated for Christian theocracy to rule over the United States. He has asserted that “’God’ is sovereign over our government, over our law” and has suggested that the First Amendment only applies to Christians. He has repeatedly blasted Islam, the world’s second-largest faith, as a “false religion.” Moore has a penchant for stoking Islamophobia with fearmongering lies, like his recent ludicrous assertion that “there are communities under Sharia law” in Illinois and Indiana. He also supports Trump’s unconstitutional Muslim ban and has written on a fake news site that Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MN), the first Muslim elected to Congress, was not fit to serve because no Muslim could honestly take an oath of office.
The only people Moore seems to hate more than Muslims are LGBTQ people. He believes homosexuality should be illegal — the Bible calls for the execution of gay men — and has praised a law signed by Russian President Vladimir Putin criminalizing “gay propaganda.” Moore recently lamented that “sodomy and perversion” are rampant in America and has opined that the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on New York and Washington, DC were “God’s” revenge for homosexuality and other “immorality.” He also applauded Trump’s bigoted and baseless ban on transgender men and women serving in the US armed forces.
“God” twice got Moore fired from the top judicial job in Alabama. In 2003, he was removed from office for refusing to remove a monument of the Ten Commandments from the state judicial building. He was elected again a decade later but was firedlast year for defying federal orders to permit same-sex marriages in the wake of the US Supreme Court’s historic Obergefell v Hodges marriage equality ruling.
But in a state where nearly nine out of 10 residents identify as Christians — and half the population is evangelical — Moore is wildly popular, as Tuesday’s election proves. Having lived and worked in Alabama, it comes as no surprise to me that people there would embrace a leader who doesn’t acknowledge the well-established political and scientific realities of climate change, evolution, voter suppression or racial injustice, but who does believe in things for which there is little or no evidence — “God,” creation, the “hoax” of global warming, voter fraud, “reverse racism” and so on. My own father (he’s white, I was adopted), an avowed Alabama Trumpist, has fallen for “birther” conspiracies, believes Mexicans really are rapists (I’m half Mexican, mind you) and honestly thinks that it’s racist for black people to have their own cable channel (I’m half black, mind you). In a state that only voted to decriminalize interracial marriage in the year 2000, Roy Moore’s success doesn’t come as such a big surprise.
Roy Moore, who polls say will most likely win again come November, would be the most extremist senator elected in most of our lifetimes. Down in the Heart of Dixie, half a century post-George Wallace, folks don’t seem all too concerned. They love “God,” guns and gumption, and Roy Moore’s got all three in spades. But in the highly improbable event that there really is a “God,” she’s got one really perverse sense of humor.