First up from the God Machine this week is one of the most controversial elected officials in the religious right movement, who gave voice this week to a truly bizarre argument about religious liberty.
Alabama’s Roy Moore is perhaps best known as the “Ten Commandments judge” who gained notoriety for using his courtroom to promote his religious beliefs. After parlaying his celebrity status into a seat on the Alabama Supreme Court, he was removed from office for ignoring court orders he didn’t like. Moore nevertheless ran again and was re-elected.
Now Alabama’s state Supreme Court Chief Justice is making comments like these.
Alabama’s chief justice offered an unusual interpretation of the U.S. Constitution in a newly-released video, telling a religious organization that the First Amendment only protects Christianity.“They didn’t bring the Koran over on the pilgrim ship, the Mayflower” Chief Justice Roy Moore announced at the Pastor for Life Luncheon, an event hosted in January by Pro-Life Mississippi. In a video obtained and released by Raw Story last Friday, Moore told his audience that religion in the First Amendment only applied to the God in the Bible.“Let’s get real. Let’s learn our history. Let’s stop playing games,” said Moore at the Jackson, Miss. event.
“Everybody, to include the U.S. Supreme Court, has been deceived as to one little word in the First Amendment called ‘religion.’ They can’t define it,” Moore argued. “They can’t define it the way Mason, Madison, and even the United States Supreme Court defined it, ‘the duties we owe to the creator and the manner of discharging it.’ They don’t want to do that, because that acknowledges a creator god.”
“Buddha didn’t create us. Mohammed didn’t create us. It’s the god of the Holy Scriptures,” the right-wing jurist added.
The obvious takeaway from the comments was that Moore believes the First Amendment was designed to protect Christians – but no one else. To believe religious liberty applies to all, he suggests, is to be “deceived.”
Moore later clarified that he meant to refer to the biblical foundations in the United States, not the contemporary application of the First Amendment, but (a) that’s clearly not what he said; and (b) the framers wrote a secular Constitution and created a secular government, so these biblical foundations don’t really exist in any practical context.
Also from the God Machine this week:
* The pope continues to champion redistribution of wealth: “Pope Francis called for ‘the legitimate redistribution of economic benefits’ on Friday, arguing that the Bible demands an economic system that cares for the ‘poorest and those most excluded.’”
* The Massachusetts Supreme Court this week ruled against a lawsuit challenging the addition of the phrase “under God” in the Pledge of Allegiance.
* If you missed the prayer event at Capitol Hill’s Statuary Hall this week, Right Wing Watch has some of the highlights. (I use the word “highlights” loosely.)
* In the wake of the recent Supreme Court ruling, religious right leaders are eager to encourage local government officials to start official public meetings with Christian prayers.
* And TV preacher Pat Robertson this week told viewers of his “700 Club” program that there are “a whole bunch of radicals on the right” who are ruining things for Republicans by nominating candidates who “aren’t capable of beating the Democrats.” The right-wing televangelist said all of this without a hint of irony.