10 November 2017 // At The University of Alabama

Roy Moore Can't Seem To Grasp The First Amendment

Roy Moore's misinterpretation of the First Amendment is a grim reflection of Alabama's failing education system.

Charles Lane

December 12th, 2017 will be a pivotal day for the political landscape as Alabama votes in their special Senate election. In February of 2017, the nation winced as former Alabama senator Jeff Sessions became The United States Attorney General. In his absence, Sessions left behind Luther Strange to hold office until the election.

Strange thought that he had the Republican nomination sealed when he received an endorsement from Donald — along with the adorable nickname “Big Luther” — however, he was defeated in the primaries by Roy Moore. On the other side of the stratosphere, Democratic candidate Doug Jones is gaining traction and was even tied with Moore in one poll. On December 12th, Alabama will choose between Moore and Jones, and only a psychic octopus could predict the outcome. In the wake of this important election, I feel that it is necessary to stress that there has always been a separation of church and state in the United States of America.

If you have ever opened a history book or went to school, you have probably learned about the United States Constitution. It’s a handy dandy paper which sets guidelines that seem pretty reasonable, so we’ve been trying to follow them for a while now. In the Constitution, the founding fathers felt that it was important to establish that the United States does not have an official religion, so they put that tidbit at the top and called it The First Amendment. The First Amendment states, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free practice thereof.” This amendment is fantastic, I can openly worship Bryan Cranston and no one can stop me. This amendment seems like it would be hard to misinterpret, it blatantly states that the government cannot impede on religious practices, however, Republican candidate Roy Moore believes that the Constitution caters to Christianity.

In an interview with Vox, Roy Moore stated, “To deny God — to deny Christianity or Christian principles — is to deny what the First Amendment was established for. You see, the First Amendment was established on Christian principles.” (Stien, 1) The word ‘Christianity’ isn’t seen anywhere within The First Amendment, Moore’s argument is a perfect example that correlation does not equal causation. With this logic, one could argue that The First Amendment was also established on Buddhist principals because The Buddha encouraged his followers to explore other religions and respect other teachings. However, the Constitution clearly states, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion” so that argument is immediately thrown out the window.

Roy Moore is so adamant about his position, that he’s been removed from positions of power twice: Once for refusing to remove the ten commandments from a courthouse, and the second time for refusing marriage licenses to same-sex couples. He has also been quoted as saying that the ruling to legalize gay marriage was “Worse than the 1857 pro-slavery decision.” Which is a horribly inaccurate statement that downplays slavery and demonizes homosexuality. Moore argues that legalized gay marriage forces Christians to accept homosexuality, and therefore violates The First Amendment. Once again, Moore's entire argument is flawed because the constitution clearly states, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion.”

I firmly believe that there is some good in everyone. I do not think that Roy Moore is pure evil, maybe he even means well, but he is horribly uninformed. As I am writing this, I begin to wonder how could someone be so wrong about their own history? How would one misinterpret an amendment that clearly states “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion” And then it hit me.

As of 2017, 75 public schools across Alabama have been placed on the “Failing Schools” list, and that number has been steadily rising. According to a study by Wallethub, Alabama’s public schools rank 8th worst in the nation, and a steady decrease in teachers leaves our student to teacher ratio at 18 to 1. To top it all off, Alabama is the 6th poorest state in the country, and Donald wants to reduce education spending to 13.5 percent. AHHH. As a former student of the Tuscaloosa City School System, I have seen firsthand how schools in Alabama are underfunded. The schools cannot afford to buy new books, so the teachers either teach without them or make do with missing pages and dated information. Classrooms are becoming overcrowded which gives teachers less control over the classroom. In my sex ed class, I was taught that condoms are ineffective, and abstinence is the only preventative measure. At one point there was talk of removing art programs.

With all of this in mind, it’s not hard to believe that someone like Roy Moore, who also went through the Alabama public education system, would develop some strange notion that The First Amendment completely contradicts its own message. Maybe his misconstrued logic is the result of a flawed education system. Roy Moore isn’t out to infringe on the rights of others out of his own evil intent, he’s just been failed by his education.

In the polls, Roy Moore, who has been supported by the KKK, is still ahead of Doug Jones, who has prosecuted the KKK. So that is why this December, I urge every Alabamian to vote and to make a responsible decision. Regardless of party affiliation, just look at the two candidates, see what each one has to say. Remember that Roy Moore said that 9/11 was a punishment from God and that shootings are on the rise because we aren’t praying enough.

Remember that the founding fathers didn’t want religion anywhere near government. Remember the children in the system who do not want to fall into a downward spiral of adults not caring about education. Think about the children, please.