Things To Act
Wednesday, February 04, 2004
The Ten Commandments of Politics Include "Don't Be Stupid" and "Half a Loaf Is Almost Always Better Than None Ever Again."
This article--discussing a possible presidential campaign by Roy Moore--is troubling.

Moore has as much significant chance of getting elected as Ralph Nader, which is to say, none at all. What he can do is tip the election to favor the Democratic candidate (given that Bush has Nader to thank for his 2000 win, this point should not be lost on the Right). Thus, if Moore is at all interested in getting his chosen policies passed, it is deeply dumb for him to run. Even if his goal is to drag Bush to the right, this will still likely lead to a Democratic win, as swing voters tend to distrust the Religious Right's attempts to impose religion onto the public discourse (hence, Bush's rightward moves will cost him votes). If the goals of the movement Moore leads include the appointment of judges who don't think that abortion is a constitutional right and who think that healthy freedom of religion is vital, they should wake up and support Bush, as it's the best they're going to get (some nudging to remind him of his base may be appropriate, but not in a way that scares off swing voters or excites liberal interest groups into running (more of) a smear campaign (than they already will)). If the movement's goals include getting judges appointed who want to impose their version of Christianity on the nation, then Bush might not have much to offer--and they won't ever win a national election, because not only will swing voters be appalled, but many conservative Christians who recognize the value of freedom of religion will also be appalled.

Moore's hypocrisy seems well-illustrated by this quote: "I am tired of judges who won't let us pray at high school graduations, football games and in public buildings pushing people of faith around." Using the power of the state to endorse prayers of a specific denomination seems to be pushing people of faith around if anything is. I prefer to keep my official governmental events free of prayers, be they Baptist, Jewish, Muslim, Atheist, or LDS. It's simply not an appropriate venue, not least because of the Establishment Clause. (Which is not to say that prayers cannot take place in public buildings--just not with the sponsorship of the state).

"Bill Pryor made a decision on who he would side with and I'm disappointed it's not with the people." This populist appeal is curious. First, I'm not convinced that 'the people' support Moore's actions to begin with (certainly not outside the Bible Belt). Second, the Constitution and Bill of Rights were created precisely to restrain popular majorities from infringing on the rights of others. And for all that certain elements of public life with respect to religion are not ideal, and the Supreme Court may have gone too far in some places, by and large Christians have it pretty well today in terms of being free from persecution (and for heavens' sakes, how can anyone read the New Testament and come away with the idea that we're supposed to be live in a culture that accepts us?). I suspect that most of their (our?) frustration comes from the fact that the culture is by and large departing from the values we hold dear--but that does not entitle us to try to impose those values on others by force, even if it could be done (which I doubt it could). Hymn #240, AofFs 11-12.

Moore himself violated a federal order, and was hence removed from office, which seems entirely fair. If he won't uphold laws he disagrees with, he shouldn't serve in public office. I also don't think he should try to represent Christianity to the nation, as there are far better causes to make a protest in.

More broadly, I simply don't understand the posting of the Ten Commandments issue's power to get people riled up. However, I think I'll save that for a separate post.

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