If the latest polls are to be believed, Luther Strange is facing a steep climb to keep Jeff Sessions’ former Senate seat in Alabama–even with the White House putting its thumb on the scale. But this isn’t something that we in Liberal America should applaud. After all, polls show him losing badly in the Republican primary to the former Ten Commandments judge, Roy Moore. Remember, we’re talking about a man who believed that state officials did not have to obey any Supreme Court decision in favor of marriage equality, and even argued that marriage equality was outside the power of the courts.
As anyone who has followed Moore’s antics over the last decade knows, there’s a very real possibility that we’d be trading a Trumpbot for a theocrat. We got another reminder on Monday, when word got out that Moore has been a frequent guest on a Christianist podcast hosted by a pastor who believes being gay should be a capital offense.
CNN’s Andrew Kaczynski and his team at the KFILE discovered that Moore has appeared at least five times on “Generations Radio,” a podcast hosted by Colorado-based pastor and homeschooling guru Kevin Swanson. In October, for instance, he argued that Obergefell v. Hodges did not apply to Alabama–forgetting that Supreme Court decisions apply nationwide. That argument, as well as an earlier order to state probate judges to defy a federal district court order to issue same-sex marriage licenses, got him suspended from his post as Chief Justice five months earlier. He last appeared on the show in February, two months before formally entering the Senate race.
At first glance, this shouldn’t pose a problem for Moore. After all, Moore is on record as being rabidly homophobic. In 2002, while he was chief justice, he called homosexuality an “inherent evil” that was “abhorrent, immoral, detestable, a crime against nature and a violation of the laws of nature and of nature’s God.” The Alabama GOP is staggeringly fundified, and Moore seemed to be merely padding his bonafides. But even by religious right standards, Swanson is staggeringly extreme. He believes that 9-11 was merely an attempt to put a Muslim in the White House, and has encouraged Christians working in public schools to cram religion down their kids’ throats.
His views on homosexuality are no less extreme. He thinks Christians should hold up signs saying “Leviticus 20:13” at LGBT weddings; that verse appears to say that homosexual sex is grounds for execution. He also called for Christian cakemakers to deface cakes intended for gay weddings by writing “Leviticus 20:13” on them. And just last month, he suggested that public schools ought to be burned down for their growing tolerance of the LGBT community. There’s a lot more where that came from. People for the American Way’s Right Wing Watch put together an extensive dossier on Swanson; see for yourself here.
But apparently Swanson has gone too far even for the most calloused fundies. In July 2015, Swanson introduced Ted Cruz at the Freedom 2015 National Religious Liberties Conference. At that gathering, Swanson doubled down on his claim that being LGBT should be grounds for execution. People for the American Way’s Right Wing Watch got a clip.
Swanson claimed that both the Old and New Testaments “speak with authority” on this matter–gays should be put to death, “and we ought to receive it.” Following that conference, a Cruz spokesman apologized on behalf of his boss and denounced Swanson’s “offensive comments.”
Moore himself seemed to punt on the matter in a 2015 interview. Watch here.
A spokesperson for the Moore campaign claimed that just because his boss appears on a show, it was “never an endorsement of the interviewer.” But that’s hard to believe given what Moore and Swanson discussed. They both wrung their hands at the lack of mandatory prayer in public schools, claimed that “In God We Trust” would soon be removed from currency, and railed against laws that barred discrimination on account of sexual orientation.
Granted, appearing on Swanson’s show may be enough to get Moore over the finish line in the primary runoff against Strange. But if wins, the National Republican Senate Committee is going to have a decision to make. Does it want to campaign for a guy who has no problem appearing with a pastor who spews this kind of extremist rhetoric on a regular basis? And if Moore does manage to win the special election, does Mitch McConnell want to deal with yet another lightning rod in his caucus? The ads would write themselves in 2018 and 2020.
The thought of saying “Senator Roy Moore” was already stomach-turning. This is yet more reason why.
(featured image courtesy Moore’s Facebook)