Posted by Guest on October 05, 2017 in Blog

by Sarah Seniuk

Roy Moore has a particular vision of America. His religious, political, and judicial histories and beliefs have come under renewed scrutiny as Alabama prepares for its senatorial special election. Moore’s selection as the GOP nominee, all but ensuring he’ll become the new senator for Alabama, should have all Americans concerned about the health of our democracy.

While campaigning in the days leading up to last week’s vote, Moore reiterated what he understands as the relationship between the bible and governance: “I want to see virtue and morality returned to our country and God is the only source of our law, liberty and government.” Moore’s religious political fundamentalism has ties to the Constitution Party which upholds biblical law both above and as the source of US government. Moore himself stated that the Christian God is sovereign over all, including the US government, and that in separating God from government Americans are committing an act of apostasy - the abandonment of religion.

It almost seems a redundant point to make for anyone who has taken a US civics class, but Moore’s beliefs about religion and governance fundamentally contradict the Constitution. For Moore’s perspective to be true, the US would have been founded as a theocracy, and not a democracy. We know we cannot be a theocracy because of the Establishment Clause and the Free Exercise Clause in the First Amendment, and Article VI of the Constitution which states that “no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States.”

What is most problematic about Moore’s remarks is not the general misinformation, because reasonable Americans can easily interrogate his statements. The real problem is that Moore’s vision of a Christian nation is a dog whistle for bigotry. Dog whistling is the use of coded language, particularly by politicians, that may sound one way to a general audience but is able to convey different or more specific meanings to a particular group. One of the originators of dog whistling was another Alabamian, George Wallace, when in 1963 he declared “segregation today, segregation tomorrow, segregation forever”.

Moore’s bigoted beliefs are not particularly veiled (as he has publicly stated his feelings that Keith Ellison’s religion made him unfit to serve in Congress, or that same-sex marriage is akin to bestiality). The dog whistle here comes into play because his appeal to Christianity and claims to ardently love and support the Constitution allows for his supporters to believe that they are not - in fact, can’t be - bigoted because they are moral, religious, patriots. Bigotry in any form - anti-immigrant, anti-Arab, anti-Muslim, anti-woman, anti-LGBTQ, anti-Black - becomes more easily consumed and spread when concealed within this type of dog whistle.

Moore’s description of his version of a Christian nation is not a democracy, it instead threatens democracy and democratic participation by demonizing large swathes of the American populace under the guise of religious morality. Moore and his rhetoric support an exclusive and homogenous ideal, one rooted in bigotry and not aspirational values. To think he’ll bring his vision of this America to the Senate is troubling.  

Sarah Seniuk is a 2017 fall intern at the Arab American Institute.