Judge Roy Moore isn’t cool. The recently chosen GOP candidate for the US Senate from Alabama flashes pistols at his rallies. He wears a cowboy hat and rode a horse to the polling booth on election day. He says nutty things, channeling wild, half-remembered rumors from the rightwing deep web.
Patrick Buchanan says that Moore is a throwback to an older kind of conservative, a species that hasn’t been seen in DC for some time. Buchanan should know. He’s nearly as uncool as Moore.
Still, my instinct is to defend Moore, and not just because we’re both Alabamians. It’s because Moore gets trashed for saying things that, not too long ago, were common sense. His “extreme views” often reflect the nearly universal heritage of Christian public theology.
Among Moore’s zany beliefs (his “incendiary remarks,” as reported by the BBC) is the idea that “God’s wrath is felt on earth.” Perhaps that’s wrong, maybe incendiary. But Moore is in the good company of Isaiah, Jeremiah, Jonah, and Jesus.
His explanation for high crime rates in the U.S.? “We have forgotten God.” Moore doesn’t say it as elegantly, but it’s the kind of thing you could hear from Benedict XVI or Alexander Solzhenitsyn.
He thinks that only God can heal our racial divisions. Sounds a bit Pauline or Johannine to me. He’s skeptical about evolution, an opinion shared by not a few scientists.
Moore believes homosexuality should be illegal. It’s like Moore wants to take us back to the benighted . . . well, the benighted early 2000s.
The U.S. Supreme Court upheld anti-sodomy laws as late as 1986 (Bowers v. Hardwick). When it reversed that decision in 2003 (Lawrence v. Texas), fourteen states still had anti-sodomy laws on the books. At the time, sodomy was a capital crime in Idaho.
Finally – get this – Moore says, “God is the only source of our law, liberty and government.” He lost his job as Chief Justice of the Alabama Supreme Court because he insisted on symbolizing this belief with a monument of the Ten Commandments.
Moore would remind his critics of those nagging references to “Nature’s God” and the “Creator” as the source of inalienable rights in the Declaration of Independence.
Put the Declaration aside: The notion that God is the source of law and government, the Guarantor of liberty, is nothing but the common mind of the Christian church. Paul, Augustine, Aquinas, Luther, Calvin, Barth, and all the rest: None would say anything different.
The BBC might want to review the laws of King Alfred the Great – one of their own – which began with an English translation of the Ten Commandments.
Judge Moore hasn’t kept up with the swirl of the cultural revolution. He isn’t cool, and that’s the cardinal sin. For the first commandment saith: Be cool, as I your heavenly parent am cool.