Gerson: Roy Moore Embraces the “Shabby, Third-Rate Gospel of Stephen K. Bannon”

MooreIn his most recent column, Michael Gerson, the conservative evangelical columnist at The Washington Post, explains the Christian nationalism of Judge Roy Moore:

But Moore represents a peculiar challenge to the GOP future. He holds to a particularly rigorous vision of a Christian America, ultimately ruled and legitimated by “biblical law.” In his conception, the freedom of “religion” in the First Amendment is limited to the Christian (and presumably Jewish) version of the creator God. So the protections of the Constitution do not extend to, say, Buddhism and Islam. “Buddha didn’t create us,” explains Moore. “Muhammad didn’t create us. It’s the God of the Holy Scriptures.”

The absurdity of this claim is just stunning. Moore is contending that when the First Amendment says, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion,” the document was actually intending to establish a religion. This indicates a type of zealotry willing to call night day and day night.

Stunning indeed.  I need to do some checking, but I think Moore’s position is an even more consistent Christian nationalism than the stuff peddled by David Barton.

Gerson argues that Moore is less theonomist and more Bannonist:

It is easy to imagine Moore sleeplessly considering American decadence, because his version of biblical law is ceaselessly violated. It is worth asking: What is his limiting principle in enforcing the voice of Heaven? The Ten Commandments set aside the Sabbath for rest. Should that be mandated? How about Old Testament recommendations of the death penalty for adulterers, apostates, blasphemers and incorrigible children? Why not enforce the Apostle Paul’s admonition against “foolish talk”? But that would leave Moore speechless.

No, Moore is not really a theonomist. The boundaries of his worldview, it turns out, almost exactly coincide with those of the Breitbart agenda. Moore’s study of divine law has led him, in the end, to the shabby, third-rate gospel of Stephen K. Bannon.

Read the rest here.  I also wonder how much longer we should call Gerson an “evangelical” or a “conservative.”

More on Judge Roy Moore

MooreRoy Moore is going to keep people like me busy.  If he wins the Alabama Senate seat in December he will go to Washington and continue to make his historically misinformed Christian nationalist claims.  But in terms of politics, I don’t think it really matters that Moore is probably going to the Senate instead of Luther Strange.  Both men will vote the same way on most issues.

Here is a taste of Rachel Chason’s Washington Post piece on Moore’s brand of Christian politics:

Roy Moore’s reading of the Bible has long informed the way the former chief justice of Alabama interpreted the law, and it promises to continue to do so now that he has won the Alabama Republican primary.

Moore, unlike any other Senate candidate in recent history, made his belief in the supremacy of a Christian God over the Constitution the cornerstone of his campaign.

“I want to see virtue and morality returned to our country and God is the only source of our law, liberty and government,” Moore said during Thursday’s debate with incumbent Sen. Luther Strange, who was backed by President Trump and the Republican establishment.

The central argument of Moore’s campaign, The Washington Post’s Michael Scherer reported, is that removing the sovereignty of a Christian God from the functions of government is an act of apostasy, an affront to the biblical savior as well as the Constitution. He even carries a pocket pamphlet that he published with a legal theory of God’s supremacy.

Read the entire piece here.

John McCain Is Not The First Senator To Return To Washington With A Brain Tumor And Cast An Important Vote

ENgleCheck out James Fallows’s piece at The Atlantic on former California Senator Clair Engle and his heroic vote to end a Senate filibuster that cleared the way for the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

Few of today’s politicians or political writers have even heard of Clair Engle. I had to learn his name, in grade school civics courses in California, because he was one of our state’s two U.S. senators. (No one will remember the other: Thomas Kuchel, pronounced keekle, a Republican who succeeded none other than Richard Nixon as senator when Nixon became vice president under Dwight Eisenhower.) Engle was a Democrat, the first Democrat to win a Senate seat in California in the 20th century. While in office he was known mainly for supporting California-related public works programs, and for flying his own airplane all around to see constituents, including through the vast, rural Second District that made up most of the northern part of the state and that he had represented as a congressman.

Then in the summer of 1963, when Clair Engle was 51 years old, a generation younger than John McCain today, he was diagnosed with a brain tumor, and underwent surgery. Within six months, he was partially paralyzed and unable to speak. Within a year of his diagnosis, in the summer of 1964, he was dead, at age 52.

But in those final few months, Clair Engle chose to do something remarkable—in fact the main thing for which he is now known.

Read the entire piece here.

J.D. Vance for Senate?

vanceSome members of the GOP are encouraging J.D. Vance, author of the best-selling Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis, to run for Senate in Ohio.  They think he can defeat incumbent Sherrod Brown.

Here is a taste of a report from The Hill:

Vance, a 32-year-old venture capitalist and Marine veteran, rose to fame last year with his book “Hillbilly Elegy,” which recounts his life and family in Ohio. The book, however, is widely seen as illustrative of the white working-class and rural voters who voted for President Trump in 2016.

Vance, a graduate of Yale Law School, moved back to Ohio following the success of his book to start Our Ohio Renewal, a nonprofit geared toward addressing social and economic issues discussed in “Hillbilly Elegy.”

Vance told The Washington Post in December that he was not yet eyeing a run for office but would not rule it out in the future.

“I think that I need to live in the state for a while and get to know these problems a little better before actually doing something like that. Never say never, but it’s certainly not something I am thinking about over the short-term.”

A David Barton Disciple is Running for U.S. Senate in Pennsylvania

This should be interesting.

Rick Saccone, a state representative from Pennsylvania’s 39th Legislative District, is running for Senate in the hopes of gaining the GOP nomination and defeating incumbent Bob Casey in 2018.

This is interesting for readers of The Way of Improvement Leads Home because Saccone is one of Pennsylvania’s biggest David Barton supporters.  (If you don’t know David Barton, click on this link and read some of our posts about him).

In fact, Saccone will kick off his campaign at a rally in the state capitol rotunda on February 27th.  Guess who will be introducing him:

I have never heard Barton speak live.  I live ten minutes from the capitol.  I could take off my history hat and put on my journalism hat and go “cover” this event for The Way of Improvement Leads Home.  But, alas, I will be teaching American history on that day and at that time. 🙂

Here is Saccone speaking from the Barton playbook:

And here are some of his tweets:

Akhil Amar on “Advise and Consent”

Senate

Akhil Amar is a liberal law professor at Yale.  He is also an originalist.  Amar is best known for his book America’s Constitution: A Biography.  I have found it to be the most accessible introduction to the Constitution available.  I consult it all the time.

While doing some research on whether or not the Senate had the constitutional right to refuse to give Barack Obama’s appointee to the Supreme Court an up or down vote, I came across “Games Over Center a Court,” a 2005 op-ed  Amar wrote for The Washington Post.

In the give and take between the president and the Senate, the executive has the upper hand. Though the document speaks of senatorial “advice,” only the president makes actual nominations, and once this happens, it is hard for the Senate to say no. A president is always free to name his first choice over his third, while a senator who says no to her own third choice has no guarantee that the president will ever nominate one of the senator’s top two picks. In essence, a senator must vote down an actual person with no assurance that the unknown alternative behind Door No. 3 will be any better. Whereas the president need only make up his own mind, there may in fact be no single nominee who heads the wish list of a majority of senators.

Also, voting against a flesh-and-blood nominee with friends and family, and perhaps a compelling life story, is much harder than voting against an ordinary bill sponsored by the administration. While nothing in the Constitution’s text or history gives a nominee an absolute right to an up-or-down floor vote, basic notions of fair play make it hard to deny a high-visibility candidate such a vote.

If I read Amar correctly, he is saying here that the Senate does not have to give an up-or-down vote to Obama’s appointee.  Thoughts?

Breaking News: David Barton Will Not Run for U.S. Senate

John Cornyn is breathing a sigh of relief today because David Barton will not run for U.S. Senate.  He announced the decision this morning on the Glenn Beck radio program.  Here is a taste of a report from Politico:

John Cornyn in the Republican primary, he announced on Glenn Beck’s radio show on Wednesday.

“The time is just not right for me,” Barton said on TheBlaze, disappointing Beck, who along with other tea party activists had hoped Barton could unseat the senator.

Read the rest here.

Thanks to Phil Strunk of Reckless Historians for bringing this to my attention.

The Barton Senate Run is Getting Serious

A few days ago we reported on a possible David Barton run for U.S. Senate.  It looks like the Tea Party in Texas is not happy with current senator John Cornyn’s devotion to conservative ideals and wants Barton to challenge him in the upcoming Republican primary.  Here is what we are learning:

I have mixed feelings about a Barton run. As someone who does not agree with Barton’s Tea-Party politics I shudder when I think of the possibility of him bringing his views of American history and culture to the United States Senate.  On the other hand, a Barton run will bring him national attention and thus provide more opportunities to expose some of his faulty views of history and to offer an alternative understanding of how to think about the past.
Of course I have had a lot to say about Barton here at the blog, in my former Patheos columns, and in my Was America Founded as a Christian Nation?: A Historical Introduction.  Here is an overview:

David Barton For Senate

Will David Barton be the next Senator from Texas?

It looks like there is a movement afoot to recruit David Barton to be the next United States Senator from Texas.  The movement has a Facebook page with over 1000 members

According to this website Barton has not ruled out the possibility.  It also claims that “David Barton would be an incredible U.S. Senator.” We will see how this all plays out.  
Barton’s possible candidacy reminds me of a Gordon Wood quote: “If someone wants to use the past to change the world, he should forgo a career as a historian and run for office.”

Warren Throckmorton is following the story closely at his new blog at Patheos.