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Alabama Fallout: Real LOSER is RELIGION

December 18th, 2017 · 13 Comments

The defeat of Roy Moore in Alabama has been widely portrayed as a loss for the Republican party, Donald Trump and even the political sideshow that is Steve Bannon.

But long after they are all forgotten … or at least put way behind us in terms of politics or even history … there is an even GREATER and LONG-TERM loser that will suffer from what the world witnessed in Alabama:  RELIGION.

That Moore could have even been nominated … and despite a catalogue of convicted lawlessness, contempt for Court and openly proclaimed bigotry and extremism … still be supported by almost half the state (up to 90% in some areas) of supposedly RELIGIOUSLY faithful Christians  … spoke volumes about the state of BELIEF in the American “Bible Belt”.

And that was BEFORE all the revelations and multiple accusations surrounding his pathetic pursuit of teenage girls when he was a prosecuting Alabama state attorney in his 30s ….which alone should have seen him sent packing as a potential Senator by anyone with ANY semblance of moral compass or religious faith.

And yet,  more than FIFTY Alabama pastors signed a Declaration supporting Moore as candidate for the US Senate!


No wonder Moore still won more than 48% of the vote in Alabama….most of them OLDER voters, while younger, better educated voters, ignored the pastors’ plea:

“And the younger the electorate got, the worse Moore did. Among those 18-44, he got walloped by 23 points. Moore’s loss was particularly pronounced among voters aged 30-39 where he took just 32% of the vote as compared to 66% for Jones,” CNN analysis showed.

His opponent Doug Jones’ apparently unforgiveable “sin” for the religious right … supporting a woman’s right to choose, in certain circumstances, whether to have an abortion.  And that is WORSE than alleged REPEATED cases of child sexual assault? Someone whose TARGETING of legally under-age girls was so egregious, mall management in his own local community asked him to stay away!

Those pastors and people of Alabama not only disgraced themselves by standing by Moore, they unthinkingly contributed to the continuing decline of RELIGION among young, educated people in our society.

When religious faith is associated with bigotry, ignorance, shallow and even false morality on such a large scale in such an open forum …watched so closely around the educated world … the long-term damage should not be under-estimated.

Especially in light of the clear decline in religiosity the Western world has witnessed over the past 50 years.

In the US a report published in September by a nonpartisan research organization, the Public Religion Research Institute catalogued the decline in religious affiliation:

“ There are 20 states in which no religious group comprises a greater share of residents than the religiously unaffiliated. These states tend to be more concentrated in the Western U.S., although they include a couple of New England states, as well. More than four in ten (41%) residents of Vermont and approximately one-third of Americans in Oregon (36%), Washington (35%), Hawaii (34%), Colorado (33%), and New Hampshire (33%) are religiously unaffiliated”, the researchers found.

And that was before so many in the Bible Belt openly declared their lack of real moral backbone.

So much for “In God we trust” … or at least so many of those who PURPORT to represent, cherish or follow religious values/precepts … but whose actions do not.

Religious principles and professed morality were pushed aside by 80% of the white Christian vote in the even the Bible belt in the vain pursuit of extreme right wing ideology, bigotry and tax cuts.

And I would contend the bigotry and hypocrisy of so many supposedly “religious” people and groups have contributed to this decline … and the willingness of so many “believers” in Alabama to accept and vote for Moore will further TURN OFF even more people … especially those with higher education.

Many Alabaman’s tried to defend their support for a multiple-alleged teenage girls pursuer/dater, saying it all happened many years earlier and, after all, forgiveness is a important component of Christianity.

Let’s keep it real: does anyone reading this believe if Moore had been accused of approaching/dating teenage BOYS, those voters would have applied the same Christian forgiveness factor and still supported him as a candidate????

In fact, I’d bet a revelation of him having even a ADULT gay relationship “way back” would NOT have been “forgiven” by those same Alabama voters.

The world is watching … or at least more and more of the young, educated voters in our Western world  … and religion is LOSING in terms of credibility, influence and importance … and “believers” have only themselves to blame.

And not just in Alabama.

The trials and tribulations surrounding so many pedophiles among the priestly ranks of the Church over DECADES have been well-documented … and the most damning aspect, I believe, was NOT the fact that such offenses occurred … but how, for decades, the Church looked the other way, covered up the guilty and even attacked those brave enough to come forward with their tearful tales of abuse.

And no religion has been without its extremists and  hate peddlers who have sowed bigotry, even violence.

Who could blame many for turning away.  And they are.

In Canada the disassociation from or practice of organized religion is a trend that began decades ago … and has been steadily growing.

“ Secularization in Canada has been growing since the 1960s. In 2011, 23.9% declared no religious affiliation, compared to 16.5% in 2001,” a study attached to the 2011 Census reported.

And nowhere has that been more pronounced than in Quebec … a province where the Catholic Church once wielded enormous influence and power.

“The most overwhelming change occurred during the Quiet Revolution in Quebec in the 1960s. Up to the 1950s, the province was one of the most traditional Roman Catholic areas in the world. Church attendance rates were high, and the schools were largely controlled by the Church. In the 1960s, the Catholic Church lost most of its influence in Quebec, and religiosity declined sharply.[64] While the majority of Québécois are still professed Latin rite Roman Catholics, rates of church attendance have decreased dramatically.[65] Since then, Common law relationships, abortion, and support for same-sex marriage are more common in Quebec than in the rest of Canada“, Wikipedia says.

In BC, 44.1% of the population now describe themselves as “non-religious”.

Right across the “educated” world,  as empty pews testify, more and more people are turning away from devout religious belief at a whopping rate … especially among Catholics, Protestants and Jews. And even educated and economically successful Muslims, Sikhs and Buddhists are becoming more secular … although more reluctant to declare so publicly.

Sure … we use the “institutions” to get us through the rites of passage: birth, milestones, marriage and death … but fewer and fewer REALLY shape our lives to fit or meet most religious laws and the attendance at services.

Figures now showing religion as being “unimportant” include: Sweden, 82%; Norway 78%; Japan, 74%; United Kingdom, 73%; France, 70%; Australia, 68%; Germany 60%; Canada 57%.

Among countries where religion is still considered “important”: Bangladesh, Yemen, Indonesia, 99%;  Egypt, Afghanistan, Myanmar, Thailand, 97%; Saudi Arabia, Uganda, 93% etc.

In the US, 69% surveyed previously said religion was important, while 31% said it was unimportant.

No doubt in my mind, the 650,000 Moore voters in Alabama did NOTHING to reverse that growing trend when the next survey is done.

Maybe that’s why … sadly … more and more who say Merry Christmas or Happy Hanukkah these days are thinking just in terms of gifts, food,  partying and extra days off work than the real religious messages they represent.

Harv Oberfeld

Tags: International · Media · National

13 responses so far ↓

  • 1 13.. // Dec 18, 2017 at 7:40 am

    Alabama and religious fallout? I would be hard pressed to only support a politician that was not guilty of violating some religious doctrine . (morally bankrupt). From abortion to gay rights and the newest gender reassignment, and likely a lot more that doesnt come to mind the political landscape is moving further away from standard religious beliefs every day.
    I was talking to a guy in an industrial complex one day and it turned out that he attended the same church that I did. I asked him what he thought about the current situation with some of the above mentioned problems with religion. His answer was simple but it has helped me carry on in the face of all of the scandal and all of the current upheaval. He told me to look beyond all of that and realize why we go to church. So far his advice has worked just fine.

    (Response: But the wider problem for religion is that more and more people …especially younger ones … either don’t believe in a God, or even if they do, they feel they can commune with that Power or Force without attending or supporting organized religion …because too many of their LOUDEST “leaders” and “believers” have proven to be disingenuous, hate mongers, hypocrites or even criminals. And BOTH of those groups in Alabama brought shame to religion with their “holier than thou” hypocrisy. h.o.)

  • 2 r // Dec 18, 2017 at 9:52 am

    being a good person is the priority.golden rule

  • 3 Dwayne // Dec 18, 2017 at 10:12 am

    Excellent analysis. It may be overly optimistic to consider this result as the tipping point in those parts of the South but to paraphrase Churchill it represents the end of the beginning of the ultimate erosion of the political clout of the allegedly Christian extremists and allied ultra-right nutbars.

    (Response: I personally am a person of faith …but with my blog called Keeping it Real, I can’t help but notice how people’s ORGANIZED religiosity around the world is adversely proportional to their literacy/education levels. The most radical/hate-filled/violent bigots too often seem to be manipulated by so-called extreme “religious” leaders … and that was so readily apparent in Alabama… and most interestingly although old white men/women fell into line … it did NOT work in that supposed bastion of “belief” among the younger voters, women and blacks. h.o)

  • 4 e.a.f. // Dec 18, 2017 at 12:28 pm

    What Alabama citizens demonstrated was their ignorance and tribalism. That tribalism is their religion or visa versa. Its my team right or wrong. its my religion right or wrong. That turns off a lot of younger people, who have been taught in schools, how to ask questions, how to analyze.

    These people, who have little power in their own lives, had an opportunity they believed, to exercise their group power. To place into power one of their own, Moore, right or wrong, they considered him, one of their own. Now there is little in common between the well to do Moore and the majority of those who voted for him. He wasn’t going to improve their lives. They didn’t care, they wanted their tribe to win.

    Younger, better educated people were better able to analyze the information and make an informed decision. Their tribe isn’t just one tribe, but many. They don’t see their identity as part of a religion. They see themselves as their occupation, their friends, their hobbies, etc. Not voting for their “tribe” is O.K. They have other facets of their lives which helps them form their identities.

    I certainly agree with the topic, the real loser was religion, actually the Alabama type religion, of protestant, fundamentalism. Perhaps it is time to expose that part of the religious community for what it is. Society and the Roman Catholic Church has done a lot of work exposing all sorts of messes, while some of these fundamentalist protestants looked on gleefully. well a note to them: what goes around, comes around.

    (Responses “Ignorance and tribalism” … exactly. But while I was not surprised to see that in so many older white Alabamans … I was appalled to see that pandered to and even encouraged by so many supposed “pastors” who should know better and raise their flock UP …not encourage and support such a despicable personage as Roy Moore. Shame on them, and as more and more turn away they have no one to blame but themselves. h.o)

  • 5 Cora // Dec 18, 2017 at 12:32 pm

    I think people who do believe in God prefer a direct line. They no longer believe that priests or ministers are God’s representatives. As more people are able to take advantage of better education I think the Church building will disappear.

    (Response: I think you’ve hit on something here: seems to me that many younger people are not atheists … but agnostics or believers in direct connection with whatever divinity or spiritual force there is out there. And religious leaders who have twisted “faith” into intolerance, elitist judgmental biases, hypocrisy and even hatred … as perfectly demonstrated in Alabama in recent weeks … can only blame themselves for the decline in their own influence … and LOTS of empty pews. h.o)

  • 6 G. Barry Stewart // Dec 18, 2017 at 1:06 pm

    “Let’s keep it real: does anyone reading this believe if Moore had been accused of approaching/dating teenage BOYS, those voters would have applied the same Christian forgiveness factor and still supported him as a candidate????”

    Wonderful point, Harvey.

    On 60 Minutes last night, there was a story on a reformed Skin Head, who has turned his life around and is now putting his efforts into fighting hatred.

    I wondered to myself if HE would be forgiven his past, if he ran for some kind of government position. I think so.

    I believe it is in our human nature (for many) to be forgiving and to give people a chance to redeem themselves… to a point. For many in Alabama and elsewhere, LGBTs are beyond redemption.

    (Response: Sure looked to me like too many Alabaman pastors and populace forgot … in supporting such an apparent bigot and unrepentant convicted criminal as Moore … or were quite prepared to ignore the real values of faith … in favour of bigotry and taxcuts h.o)

  • 7 D. M. Johnston // Dec 18, 2017 at 2:04 pm

    American religion is a combination of a major con-game and American corn-pone religious-politic.

    Religion is mostly state controlled, with certain religions being deemed “real” and other religions “not real”.

    In the USA, religion has morphed int a evangelical tantrum of preaching “their” version of the Bible; a bible that has been revised and edited many times to suit the needs of both church and state.

    I am not religious and I have seen much hurt done by religion. I also see great perversion of religion, to suit the needs of one pastor or another.

    What those in Alabama should do, but will not do and that is ask themselves why a serial predator of young women and girls is preferable to a man who supports the rights of women?

    I doubt they will as they are too busy re-institutionalizing segregation, Jim-Crow and other abhorrent practices.

    Hate, bile, and ignorance, the hallmark of American religion.

    On a slightly different note. When I engaged a lawyer, I never asked his religion; I would not even think of it!

    (Response: It’s a shame that more and more young people and families now see “progress” as lives devoid of spiritual connection … except for the occasional minor or life’s ritual occasions …and I blame the intolerant “holier than thou” hypocrisy and double (sometimes triple) standards of spiritual leaders and their most judgemental and vocal followers. h.o.)

  • 8 Harry lawson // Dec 18, 2017 at 2:12 pm


    What a thought provoking post,

    Almost everything where you mention religion ,you could substitute politics and the point would still be valid.

    Many of my friends consider themselves spiritual not religious. They often cite the hypocracy of organized religions.

    Many feel the same way about politics , and I can’t blame them.

    (Response: Very interesting point! But I would hope we should be able to expect a higher morale code from our spiritual “leaders” than out political ones …or we’re in REAL trouble!!! h.o)

  • 9 Gene The Bean // Dec 18, 2017 at 4:28 pm

    Very poignant and thought provoking.

    The morally bankrupt have used religion as an excuse since – forever.

    I have had my own personal epiphany……

    I think Donald Trump is the best thing to happen to the world right now. Steve Bannon and people like Roy Moore and the wackjob religious righty-whitey-tighties are also a “god-send”.


    Because it is literally a slap in the face to normal people and it has, and will, get people off their asses to vote for progressive candidates at ALL levels. It’ll happen here in Canada too.

    Anyone that supports Trump now that his “colours” have been shown falls into just a few baskets – none of which is conducive to being a normal person. Even if its the basket that says “I’ll support whomever carries my parties flag”. That is not normal when the choices are people like Trump and Moore.

    The normal conservative movement as we used to know it – is dead. Current conservatism has no redeeming qualities whatsoever. None.

    The “old” conservatives (in the USA) would NOT have cut taxes and added to the debt when the economy is really strong and unemployment is really low. They would have done the opposite, they would have RAISED taxes and started paying off the debt.

    But the current far righters did what they always do, they paid off their benefactors (just like the BC Liberals always did) and gave themselves HUGE tax savings. They did it proudly. I hope they keep it up….. ‘cuz mark your calendars folks ….. this will be the end of the conservatives.

    Trump has polarized everything to the point that normal people will say “never again”.

    I personally don’t think Trump will survive his term. Pence will stink up the joint as well. Then, the tide will turn and conservatism will only be visible in places like Alabama. They can have it. They deserve each other.

    It is a “match made in heaven……”

  • 10 ellbee // Dec 18, 2017 at 6:16 pm

    When it comes to religion, Marx was right all along.

  • 11 Diverdarren // Dec 18, 2017 at 9:09 pm

    Harvey, I was in Alabama when Roy Moore ran for Chief Justice of the Alabama Supreme Court the second time (which he handily won). I’ve read his book, he is a Christian Taliban. He literally believes Biblical law holds precedent over Constitutional law, and that his moral beliefs allow him to dismiss Case Law.

    You can say what you want about Moore but many of the people in Alabama saw his religious resistance as a shining light in a country where all they see is sin and moral decay.

    Let’s not start thinking that the tides have turned on the alt-right. The GOP, Bannon, Trump and the so called moral majority backed an alleged pedophilic racist to 1.5 points of a Senate seat. Had Moore had been a run of the mill pussy-grabber racist you know he would’ve been on his horse to Washington.

    Once the right learned to tap into religion to sway voters they had found a voting block that makes their way to the pews on Sunday and the voters booth on Tuesday. They will always be a force to reckon with.

    Democrats had better work harder on their ground game. They can’t count on the Republicans to run perverts in every constituency in 2018.

    (Response: Hmm…. seems to me many would apply your description “saw his religious resistance as a shining light in a country where all they see is sin and moral decay” to Jim Jones, Rasputin or Osama Bin Laden too. Roy Moore a champion? No wonder organized religion is in decline! h.o)

  • 12 Rocker Rich // Dec 19, 2017 at 6:33 am

    Glad you used precise words in describing Moore’s “pathetic pursuit of teenage girls.” Too many CNN and MSNBC types gleefully labelled Moore a pedophile or child molester. Words matter and I think a lot of Alabamans knew these terms were over the top. “Pervert” yes. “Pathetic pursuer of teenage girls” yes. To go beyond those precise descriptions is to demean the horror of pedophelia, the sexual abuse and exploitation of little kids. At a gut level, maybe enough voters knew this was semantic overkill and stubbornly refused to abandon Moore, thus keeping the race close.

    I’m still ecstatic that Doug Jones won. Instead of refusing to concede, Moore should be thankful he wasn’t charged with assault those many years ago when the 14 or 15 year girl old fell out of his car onto the pavement. She could so easily have broken her neck and been paralyzed for life. And yet Moore supporters discredited her claim because, in the retelling, she misplaced the long-ago location of garbage containers in that parking lot.

    Meanwhile, Harvey, you have eloquently chronicled the utter meaningless of morality being any part of the equation for significant numbers of the religious right. They may have some ‘splaining to do when trying to advance past the Pearly Gates.

    Finally, you speculated that even Moore-type voters might draw a line if teen boys sparked the scandal. In recent decades, some Southern pol, possibly Edwin Edwards, famously boasted: “The only way I can lose is if they find me (in bed) with a dead girl or a live boy.”

    Welcome home, Harv.

    (Response: Guess I’m still an old-fashioned PRINT reporter at heart … trained by many an editor to be precise and accurate in “reporting” facts rather than using more scintillating phraseology. Of course, Moore is still a creep …not just for his sexual prowling, but his other statements and contempt for law. And, as you can see from the angle I’ve taken in this blog, I am even more appalled by so many “pastors” and self-proclaimed religious citizens endorsing and voting for that man. If there is a Hell …as they believe …they will no doubt spend a lot more time there than they think! h.o)

  • 13 Gilbert // Dec 22, 2017 at 5:46 pm

    I think Roy Moore would have lost by more points if he hadn’t run as a fundamentalist Christian. For me it was disappointing that he accepted no responsibility for his actions and simply denied everything. I agree that the actions of the pastors who supported Roy Moore were wrong. It’s probably better for them to stay out of politics.

    (Response: There’s very good reasons for separating church from the state. But in this case, these pastors and so many of their parishioners were EXPOSED for the hypocrites they are … I doubt Christ or God would approve supporting a guy who not only was convicted of breaking the law, but then refused to abide by the Court’s order … and also was accused of targeting teenage girls as young as 14 for dates! h.o.)