Free exercise of (my) religion

Judge Moore (now CJ of Alabama) says that “freedom of religion” applies only Biblical religion. No, srsly.

Chief Justice Roy Moore of the Alabama Supreme Court – a Republican, of course, and a “conservative” hero for his defiance of the law in the Ten Commandments case – told a Right-to-Life meeting “everyone, to include the United States Supreme Court, has been deceived” about the meaning of the First Amendment, because they have failed to proprely interpret the word “religion.” Moore cites “Mason, Madison, and even the United States Supremee Court” as defining “religion” to mean “the duties we owe the Creator and the manner of discharging it.” [noun-pronoun disagreement in original]

Since the Creator, says Moore, is the “God of the Holy Scriptures” –  after all, “Buddha didn’t create us! Muhammed didn’t create us!”  – the First Amendment properly applies only to the worship of that specific diety. I suppose Jews still have freedom of religion, according to Justice Moore; all other non-Christians are out of luck.

You have to give the man points for originality.  You also have to count how many Republican politicians and “conservative” pundits bother to distance themselves from this offensive nonsense. Not many, I’d wager, any more than they did when Moore narrowly won the election for Chief Justice in 2012, after having been kicked off the court for his misconduct in the Ten Commandments case.  This isn’t some random blogger: this is the chief justice of a state supreme court, announcing that only people who read the same scriptures he reads have freedom of religion. And it’s a good bet that none of the folks claiming to defend “religious freedom” when that means discriminating against gays care enough about actual religious freedom to complain.

 

 


 

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact: Markarkleiman-at-gmail.com

8 thoughts on “Free exercise of (my) religion”

  1. Mark, you've got it the wrong way round. The United States have a Supreme Court. It's Alabama that has a Supremee Court. A white supremee one.

  2. Frankly, it could be worse–as with the reaction to the United Church of Christ's suit to overturn North Carolina's gay marriage ban. It's not enough to "believe" in that god, you also have to interpret the meaning of religion in the "correct way."

    1. Don,

      Once I heard of the UCC's lawsuit, I knew (and told my nearest and dearest) that it was only a matter of time (and precious little of that) before the fundagelicals landed on them for being antichristian (?!?)

      The most amazing about face has come from the Southern Baptist Convention. Fifty years ago, the SBC was almost not an ecclesiastical organization — they provided learning materials and worship materials to their member Churches, which were pretty much autonomous. Today, it's a full-blown ecclesiastical outfit that has forgotten its roots. The Baptists were persecuted in Europe for believing that every adult member was competent to read and interpret scripture for themselves. Now, the SBC tells its members what they can and can't believe.

      It's a good thing for me that I enjoy irony supplements.

      1. "The most amazing about face has come from the Southern Baptist Convention. Fifty years ago, the SBC was almost not an ecclesiastical organization — they provided learning materials and worship materials to their member Churches, which were pretty much autonomous. Today, it's a full-blown ecclesiastical outfit that has forgotten its roots.

        Or rather, returned to it's roots; it was the product of a split over slavery – they were the slaver priests.
        IANATh(eologian), but I don't see how keeping slaves is compativle with freedom of conscience.

        "The Baptists were persecuted in Europe for believing that every adult member was competent to read and interpret scripture for themselves. Now, the SBC tells its members what they can and can't believe. "

        When the Baptists were being persecuted, the USA was a teeeeeeeeeeeeeny little set of colonies.
        It's centuries later.

  3. Well, the scriptures do say that if a man lies with another man as with a woman, that is an abomination.

    This means that unless one guy is trying to get the other guy pregnant (or if they resort to birth control pills to avoid pregnancy), it does not apply.

  4. Mark —

    Some of us have been quite critical of Roy Moore for years, going to back to his quixotic crusade to have the Ten Commandments monument at the state courthouse. I posted critically of him at NRO at the time of those efforts, as did others, and it's a shame the voters of Alabama put him back on the state Supreme Court after he was justifiably removed. That he's (once again) said something outrageous is no surprise. It's par for the course.

    Jonathan Adler

  5. There is an interesting parallel between the way that religious fundamentalists change political systems by relying on religious instead of political arguments and what Roy Moore is doing here. Political parties claiming to speak for God in a state with one dominant religion essentially transform all questions from political or social ones into theological ones. Here, Moore is saying (apparently correctly) that America has, for all intents and purposes, an established church lead by a group of highly conservative fundamentalist and evangelical preachers and it is they who speak for God.

    As long as the established church and the Republican Party control the levers of power in American society everything must conform to God's will as interpreted, naturally, by them. Moore is simply being open about the realities of life. As I say, once actors in a political system claim to speak for God, there is no longer room for political debate. Moore's point is that this requirement is every bit as true for judicial decisions as for political ones.

  6. Muslims worship the same god as Christians, it might surprise Moore to learn, so they should be good to go. They even think that Jesus will return in the end times to judge the human race. Including Roy Moore.

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