Are you there, God?

roy-mooreIt’s me, Roy.

By Phillip Ratliff

On December 12, people of faith rejected Roy Moore. Certainly, many rejected Moore in response to the allegations of sexual abuse of minors. Others, like myself, were never going to vote for Moore in the first place, having already concluded that he likes to pick on little people in other ways. He has no more business in public office than he did creeping around the Gadsden Mall.

How people of faith rejected Moore took at least a couple of forms. Some, in particular, African American women, threw their support to Moore’s opponent, Doug Jones, citing Jones’ character and achievements. Their support proved decisive, signaling rediscovered political might. Others had to overcome tribal loyalty to cast their vote for a Democrat. (Alabama hasn’t elected a Democratic senator since 1992). But overcome it, they did, Moore’s odd assortment of character flaws forcing them out of comfort zones and into strange political territory.

The large number of write-in votes—over 22,000—also tell a story of faith. Write-in voters couldn’t bring themselves to support a probable pedophile or incompetent nationalist. But because of their strong moral objections to abortion, they could not vote for Doug Jones either. Jones won his seat by 21,000 votes. It follows that write-in voters also changed the outcome of this election.

I have much sympathy for the write-in voters. I am, like probably most of them, an epistemological conservative, which is to say I hold that there is a moral world that’s real and that I had damn well better learn to navigate. Thankfully, God has given me guides—prophets and sages from my Christian tradition. And he’s given me Jesus, who, for Christians like me, is the example par excellence.

My assumptions have led me to have grave concerns over abortion, which is a concern I probably share with many of the write-in voters. To do anything to intentionally further its practice would be, in my estimation, a serious moral error.

But where I often part company, without rancor, with the write-in voters is the locus of my concern, which is not the Supreme Court but the conditions surrounding the practice. That means concern for the poor and the immigrant. It means access to healthcare. It means furthering the causes of education and equality.

This is arguably the most practical way forward for those who wish to curtail abortion, but I also hope that there is philosophical integrity to this approach. God is a simplicity: perfect, integrated, whole. He simply is. His qualities don’t exist in tension with one another. They are, rather, vibrations in a sort of harmonious, resonant chord. In the Christian vision, our society should vibrate in sympathy with this chord. We should function as a human family held together by the bonds of love and solidarity.

Roy Moore’s brand of Christianity is not recognizably Christian in this respect. Its fundamental value is division: Christians vs. Muslims, straights vs. gays, men vs. women, South vs North, native-borns vs. immigrants, America vs. the world.

And, as we have witnessed for a dozen or more years—Roy Moore vs. reality. Moore’s brand of Christianity reflects deep ontological confusion. Moore admits no place for a reasonable faith, belief that is docile in the face of evidence, that humbly accepts correction by what’s real. His view of the world comes from some discordant interior place, where he’s a cowboy and with the help of his trusty horse, Sassy, he lassoes America and hogties it to Jesus. Last August, Moore conjured midwest communities living under Sharia law out of thin air. Two days after the election results were announced, Moore hasn’t figured out that he lost.

Roy Moore is that broken. To project this brokenness onto the world is truly pitiable. To attribute the source of this brokenness to God is idolatrous. Don’t be fooled. God is not mocked. God is jealous for our right thinking about him—not because he is petty or vicious but because of what idolatry does to us. It warps us. For proof, look no further than Roy Moore and the world he imagined for us—and that Alabama narrowly escaped.

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