Friday, December 22, 2017


My best wishes to all of the readers of this humble blog for a wonderful Christmas. If I could mail each of you a card, I would have this picture on it:

This was my garden at dawn on December 9. This much snow is a rarity in the deep South. Who could not be in awe at the beauty of God's creation?

The year 2017 is about to come to a close. What a year it has been! Monumental events have occurred on every level of life all around us. Looking back, then, it is timely to ask, what difference has 2017 made?


The Episcopal Church schism in South Carolina reached a turning point in 2017 and fundamentally settled the big issue of the schism: who controls the 36 parishes that claimed to leave the Episcopal Church in 2012?

The South Carolina Supreme Court decision of August 2 recognized the Episcopal Church and the Church diocese, the Episcopal Church in South Carolina, as the trustees of 29 of the 36 parishes in question. This means that the 29 parishes return to control of the Church and its diocese. The independent diocese, the Diocese of South Carolina, is left with 6 parishes, all outside of Charleston. One other parish, St. Andrew's of Mt. Pleasant, is in the Anglican Church in North America's Diocese of the Carolinas, a diocese separate from DSC even though the two overlap.

On the question of the ownership of the pre-schism diocese, DSC is still in possession of the legal entity of the old diocese. The SCSC decision of Aug. 2 did not disturb that. However, this issue will be settled by the U.S. District Court in Charleston as it deals with the vonRosenberg v. Lawrence case. Although SCSC did not issue an opinion on this question, it did rule that the Church diocese is the rightful heir of the pre-schism diocese and looked to the federal court to settle the issue through a judgment on the trademark question.

DSC gave tacit recognition of the Church and Church diocese's control of both the diocese and the 29 parishes in the new lawsuit it filed against TEC/TECSC in circuit court on November 19. In this Complaint, DSC demanded reparations for the "improvements" made on the properties under the "Betterments Statute." The statute said the occupants of property belonging to someone else had right to payments from the property owner for improvements they (the occupants) made on the property. Thus, DSC has recognized that the diocesan and parochial properties were, and are, under Church control. (Technically, the diocesan assets are owned by the Trustees of the diocese while parish properties are owned in deeds held by the parishes. TEC and TECSC claim trusteeship, not ownership, of the parish properties under the Dennis Canon.) 

In essence, by the SCSC decision (Aug. 2) and DSC's Complaint (Nov. 19), the basic issues of the schism have been settled. As for the state supreme court ruling, DSC is engaged in two aftereffects, filing a new lawsuit against TEC/TECSC and announcing its intent to appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court. DSC's new lawsuit, filed Nov. 19, is frivolous, if desperate. It will almost certainly be dismissed in the next few months, if not weeks. The appeal to SCOTUS is even more of a long shot. It is most unlikely the high court will take the case. The usual time of dismissing an appeal (petition for "cert") is three to six months.

Looking back over the year 2017, what I regret the most about the schism is the way the DSC leaders treated Justice Kaye Hearn. This was reaching the bottom of the barrel. Exactly what the DSC lawyers thought this was going to accomplish is still a mystery to me. The DSC side did everything they could to smear her name and destroy her judicial reputation. They did not succeed of course because she had nobility and strength of character towering over her enemies and the absolute confidence of her fellow justices. In fact, the DSC scheme backfired as every one of the other four justices rallied to defend their colleague and chastise her detractors. We cannot know for sure, but it is entirely possible that the severity of the attack on Hearn may actually have sunk DSC's demands for rehearing. If so, it would be just deserts.    

Mediation is to resume next month. Judging from the two aborted attempts so far, I do not see how anyone could be hopeful of a negotiated settlement. 

The federal court case goes on. Judge Gergel had originally set a trial date of March 2018, but given the ongoing mediation and the stay in the case during that process, we will have to wait and see how the judge schedules the matter in the future. Before a trial, there will have to be a "discovery" period for the lawyers to prepare for it. It may well be that the trial will have to be delayed.

Given that the basic issue of the parishes has been settled and the ownership of the old diocese is almost certainly going to be settled, and in favor of the Church, what we will see in 2018 is only DSC's delaying tactics. They have shown every sign of dragging out the inevitable end as long as possible. 

I think there are probably two big reasons for this. One is to continue its campaign of demonization of the Episcopal Church and de-legitimization of the court decisions in the minds of the 15,000 communicants now in DSC. If DSC is to continue as a viable entity after the schism is settled, it must have the support of thousands of people. With only six local parishes and no diocesan infrastructure, DSC will have to rebuild from scratch. This will be enormously challenging and can be done only with a great deal of public support.

The second big reason for DSC's delay I suspect is really the most important, the deconstruction of the Episcopal Church. Fundamentally, this schism is more about destroying the Episcopal Church in eastern South Carolina than in building a better church. If it had been about building, DSC would have accepted the generous proposal of TEC in June of 2015 when the Church offered to recognize all of the 36 parishes as independent and the sole owners of the property. Moreover, if were now about building, DSC would be seriously negotiating for the best deal it could get in the mediation. 

All signs indicate that DSC will fight against TEC until the bitter end regardless of the outcome (read retired Bp Allison's letter to the editor here ); and even if the odds are against them, which they are. DSC will almost certainly lose in the circuit court and in their bid to SCOTUS. They proceed with the federal case at their own peril. Federal courts have almost universally sided with the Episcopal Church and the Church dioceses against breakaway groups. DSC's chance in federal court is nil. What is more, when DSC loses in federal court, it is entirely possible they will lose everything including the six parishes they now have. With their seemingly endless litigation, they also stand to lose the much-needed support of the ordinary people-in-the-pews who are already showing signs of lawsuit fatigue (see here ). DSC leaders failed to deliver to their people the promises of the schism, yet they go on, and expect the faithful to keep on paying for it. They are risking a backlash from their own people.

Chances are very good that the year 2018 will bring an end of the litigation between the two sides and at least the beginning of a settlement of the schism. The 29 parishes will have to readjust to reunion with the Episcopal Church. This will take a lot of work and probably time. But then, the Diocese of South Carolina has been around a long time, 232 years to be exact. The schism has been the worst event in the history of the diocese, but it has not been the end of the diocese. The Episcopal Church is alive and well in South Carolina, wounded to be sure, but on the mend and facing a promising future.

Thus, we must end 2017 on a high note of optimism about the end of the schism. The diocese will survive, and even thrive. Years from now, people will look back and shake their heads in dismay that prejudice against gays led to this. What a waste.  What a shame.


The first year of the Trump presidency revealed what we knew would happen. Trump is a con man but also unstable and incompetent. He won the election by posing as the champion of the ordinary people, the middle and working classes. He governs as the reverse, the champion of the very wealthy. The new tax law is the greatest transfer of wealth from the ordinary citizens to the very rich in the history of the United States. This is his only significant achievement of the year. Otherwise, he is busy deconstructing the state by attacking the CIA, the State Department, the FBI, and the media and by dismantling as much as possible of the Obama legacy. His devotees are now attacking the special prosecutor. Trump is a would-be dictator who is challenging the whole constitutional system of America.

For the last fifty years, conservatism in America has had two main streams, economic and socio/cultural. The traditional Republicans were economic conservatives. They believed that the government should favor the propertied classes under the "trickle down" theory, that the prosperity of the rich would move downward through society and everyone would be better off. This theory was popular thirty years ago under President Reagan and was discredited then. It is still used as the rationale for favors to the wealthiest citizens. Socio/cultural conservatives were not so concerned about money but about preserving the old values and ways of life and resisting what they saw as the destructive changes in society and culture all around them. Republican leaders learned a half century ago that they could win elections by using the socio/cultural lures, then switching to economic policy once in power. President Reagan was a master of this. He used socio/cultural issues to get elected, and immediately got the biggest tax cut in American history, and one heavily tilted to the rich. Trump did the same. Meanwhile, the people who elected Reagan and Trump really got nothing but the bill for tax cuts to the rich.

In 2018, look for an acceleration in moves of the deconstruction of the state. Republicans are certain to go after social "safety net" institutions. They want to "privatize" (turn over to Wall Street) Social Security and the Veterans Administration, and severely diminish, if not destroy, Medicare and Medicaid. They will be in a hurry to do this as they know they will lose the Nov. 2018 mid-term election and almost certainly lose their majority in the House of Representatives. After that, government will be a stalemate as it was in the last six years of the Obama terms. As of this point, the Republicans are also likely to lose the presidency and the Senate in the 2020 elections.

My theory is that we are in the last stage of the counter-revolution against the great democratic reform movement of the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries. Conservatives in both state and church finally realized they could not stop the reforms. As the last resort, they turned to deconstruction of the institutions that made the reforms, hence the schisms and Trump. If this is indeed the last stage, as I think it is, we can expect this deconstruction phase to die out and a post-revolutionary settlement to envelope both state and church. The looming question at this point is how much longer it will last and how much more destruction we will see before the end. I think there will be a good deal of both in 2018 but also probably the beginning of settlement by the end of the year. I doubt the deconstruction will last more than another year. DSC is likely to exhaust its legal avenues and Trump is likely to lose his majority in Congress before the end of 2018.


Who would have thought it? Of all states, it is Alabama that very well may the first signal of the beginning of the end for Trump and Trumpism (sorry Virginia, but you are a purple state, no where near as red as Alabama). A state that gave Trump one of his biggest margins of victory, 23 points, reversed itself only a year later. This is earth-shaking. I would not believe it if I had not seen it with my own eyes. Alabama elected a pro-abortion Democrat. This is the first Democrat to win a state-wide race in Alabama in nearly ten years, and the first to win a U.S. Senate seat in 25 years! Republicans are not stupid. They know what this means and this is why they are in a rush to pass as many counter-revolutionary and deconstruction measures as they can in the limited amount of time they have left. For once, perhaps the first time in history, Alabama is leading the nation in something.

On a more personal note, this has been an important year for me too. A form of cancer than runs in my family showed up. My grandfather died of it. My father was successfully treated but with side effects. Thanks to the God-given miracles of modern medicine, I was successfully treated with only negligible side effects. My father lived to be 96, my mother to 94. Neither had any form of dementia. Longevity runs in both sides of my family and I fully intend to make the most of what I am given. I am already at work on more research and writing and will go just as long as I can. I consider myself blessed.

Other than surviving cancer, the highlight of my year was the appearance of my new book, A History of the Episcopal Church Schism in South Carolina. It was released in August by Wipf and Stock Publishers, of Eugene OR. This was the result of four years' of research and writing. I did not work on it constantly, however, as that would have been too depressing. I had to take breaks for therapy such as gardening and travel. I am an avid railroad fan and ride all over the country on the train just for fun. (BTW--Keep the people of Amtrak 501 in your prayers. Dec. 18's derailment was the worst train wreck in years.) I am pleased at the way the book turned out and the reception it has had.

2017 was a momentous year for my church, nation, state, and myself. All of these had turning points in some sense; and, in my opinion, the turn was for the better. As 2017 comes to an end, I have a sense that 2018 will bring resolution to some of our most serious problems. 

The schism in South Carolina has been going on a long time now, more than five years. It has been a difficult time to say the least. On the whole, though, I am more encouraged now than ever. I think the end is in sight. I believe we are at the beginning of the conclusion. I think it just a matter of wrapping up and making peace. I hope peace brings with it reconciliation, healing, and friendship. We all need to get back to being worthy of the name we are privileged to bear.

HOMEWORK ASSIGNMENT:  To all of my readers in South Carolina, I am giving you a homework assignment today and I want you to do this before the end of the year, before Christmas would be even better. Your assignment is to watch the movie, "All Saints."

(If you have already seen it, then your back-up is "The Shack.")

(If you cannot get "All Saints" through a media provider, it is out on DVD and can be rented at the Red Box. Same for "The Shack.")

"All Saints" is the true story of an Episcopal church consigned to death that was brought back to life in a most unexpected way and back to a life far more glorious that it had ever had. It is a life-affirming tale of triumph over what may appear to be the worst. Every discouraged church person worried about the future needs to see this movie. You will be moved to tears and you will be glad. You may see the schism in SC in a new light. Who knows, maybe someday there will be a movie about the schism in South Carolina.

My best regards to you and yours at this blessed season and my best wishes to you and yours for a wonderful new year. Life is an adventure and although we have free will and make our choices everyday, there still remains a great deal that happens to us that is beyond our control. I have always believed it is best we really cannot know the future. Yet, we go on day by day doing our best, knowing we are not alone and confident in the great power of the universe that is incalculably greater than ourselves.

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

(revised Dec. 20)

Yesterday the Episcopal Church and the Church diocese (Episcopal Church in South Carolina) entered a motion in the circuit court to dismiss the independent diocese's (Diocese of South Carolina) Complaint of November 19, 2017, claiming payments from TEC/TECSC under the "Betterments Statute." This raised again the thorny issue of property that I think leaves many people in confusion of what this property business is all about. I would like to try to clarify the issue.

Once again, I need to remind everyone I am not a lawyer or legal expert and have no official connection to any diocese. I am only a layman giving my personal opinions, not advice.

I would define property as real estate, buildings, financial accounts, and furnishings, paraphernalia and the like.

There are two groups of properties at hand: 
1-properties of the diocese (as accounts, Camp St. Christopher, diocesan house on Coming St., the bishop's residence on Smith St.), and 
2-properties of the local parishes (as land, buildings, and accounts).

The pre-schism diocese had two separate legal entities incorporated under South Carolina law. 
---The first was the diocese itself. This was established in 1973 explicitly acceding to the Constitution and Canons of the Episcopal Church (in 2010, DSC revised the incorporation charter to remove reference to the Episcopal Church). 
---The second was the Trustees of the Protestant Episcopal Church in the Diocese of South Carolina. This set up a Board of Trustees to control the assets of the diocese including land, buildings, and accounts. Technically, the Board of Trustees owns the real and financial assets of the diocese. The Board is elected by the diocesan convention.

The Dennis Canon was adopted by the General Convention of the Episcopal Church in 1979 and has been church law ever since. "Canon" means church law.

It was named for Walter Dennis, a deputy in the GC of 1979 who was later bishop suffragan of New York.

The resolution was D024. According to the journal of the 1979 GC, (find it here ), the canon originated with the Committee on Canons of the House of Bishops (GC has two houses, House of Bishops and House of Deputies). The resolution was adopted by the House of Bishops and sent to the House of Deputies where it was also adopted making it effective. The Dennis Canon was added to the official Constitution and Canons of the Episcopal Church as Canon Title I, 7.4.

The Dennis Canon had two main parts:

All Real and personal property held by or for the benefit of any Parish, Mission or Congregation is held in trust for this Church and the Diocese thereof in which such Parish, Mission or Congregation is located. The existence of this trust, however, shall in no way limit the power and authority of the Parish, Mission or Congregation otherwise existing over such property as long as the particular Parish, Mission or Congregation remains a part of, and subject to, this Church and its Constitution and Canons.
Thus, the canon clearly states that all local properties are held in trust for two units, the Episcopal Church and the local Episcopal Church diocese. This is true even if the deed is held by the local church. In effect, this leaves the property with the local congregation as long as that group remains in the diocese AND the Episcopal Church. If the local congregation resolves to leave the diocese AND/OR the Episcopal Church, they cannot take the land and buildings without the permission of the trustees, the Church AND the diocese.

---Immediate validity.
The several Dioceses may, at their election, further confirm this trust declared under the foregoing Section 4 by appropriate action, but no such action shall be necessary for the existence and validity of the trust.
The Dennis Canon is immediately operative throughout the entire Episcopal Church whether or not the local dioceses adopt it. (DSC did adopt it, formally, in 1987, and voted to delete it by resolution of convention in 2010.)

The Dennis Canon established the Church and the local dioceses as trustees of parish properties. For a discussion of the legal term "trustee" see this article .

The Diocese of South Carolina explicitly acceded to the Dennis Canon from 1987 to 2010. The right of a diocesan convention to nullify a church law is highly dubious. The Church side would argue that he Dennis Canon remained in effect regardless of a vote of the diocesan convention.

What about the quit claim deeds?
In November of 2011, Bishop Lawrence issued quit claim deeds to all of the parishes of the diocese. These "quit" or surrendered any claim of trusteeship the diocese had on the properties. Whether he had the right to do this is highly dubious since it directly violated Episcopal Church law. Even if he did this legitimately, he could not surrender the Episcopal Church part of the trusteeship. Under the Dennis Canon, both the Church and the diocese are trustees of the property. I do not see what right Lawrence would ever have to surrender the trusteeship of the national Church over the local properties.

What will now happen to the quit claim deeds, at least of the 29 parishes to be returned to the Church, is an interesting question that a lawyer would need to explain to us. It seems to me that the deeds were illegal to start with because they directly violated the Dennis Canon.

The TEC/TECSC Motion (Dec. 15, 2017) to Dismiss DSC's Complaint (Nov. 19, 2017) dealt with issues of property.

---The Motion pointed out that all diocesan property is actually held by the Trustees of the Diocese (diocesan property is not subject to the Dennis Canon that relates only to local church properties). The Trustees were not named as Defendants in the suit. The Betterments Statute holds that the owner of the property must repay the occupants for "improvements." The legal owner of the diocesan property is the Board of Trustees, not the Episcopal Church or the diocese (the diocese is a separate corporation under SC law). So, as I see it, if DSC wants payments for improvements in the diocese, they would have to sue the Board of Trustees.

---Local parish properties are held for the trustees as per the Dennis Canon. They do not exist independently in and of themselves or separate from the two trustees. Therefore, the parishes cannot sue their trustees. It would be the same as suing oneself. 

---The Motion went on to remind the court that the South Carolina Supreme Court held that the Episcopal Church in South Carolina is the rightful successor of the pre-schism diocese. (Three of the five justices: Beatty, Pleicones, and Hearn.) This means the court recognizes TEC and TECSC as the trustees of the 29 named local parish properties. In other words, the court recognized the legal standing of the Dennis Canon.

One pertinent question involved in all of this was whether the Episcopal Church's Dennis Canon was automatically valid in South Carolina. There were two sides of this. 

1-One side held that sovereignty rested in the national Church. The Episcopal Church was hierarchical, that is, dioceses were subordinate to the body of the Church which was governed by the General Convention. All laws of the GC were immediately and equally applicable to all of the dioceses. In this view of church structure, the Dennis Canon was automatically enacted in the diocese of South Carolina. Thus, it did not matter what state law said. The hierarchical nature of the Church trumped that. In the Aug. 2 SCSC decision, Justices Pleicones and Hearn promoted this view. It is now crucial to the Church side that the courts recognize the Episcopal Church as hierarchical.

2-The other side held that the diocese should be judged first under state corporate and property laws. The legal approach called "Neutral Principles" held that courts had to approach property disputes in religious bodies "neutrally" and render judgments under the applicable laws. Under South Carolina law, the deed holder must enact a trust for the trustee. A trust cannot be imposed from the outside on the deed holder. In this view, the Dennis Canon could not be automatically valid because it had to be enacted by the individual deed holders, the parishes. Former Chief Justice Jean Toal made a major point of this in her All Saints decision of 2009 and again, in the Aug. 2, 2017 decision. In that decision, Justices Beatty and Kittredge took a different view. They agreed that the Dennis Canon was not valid in SC in and of itself, but both held that the 29 parishes had acceded to the Canon on their own, thus enacting trusts for the Church and the Church diocese it in their particular cases. Where these two split was on the question of whether the parishes could then revoke their accessions to the Canon, Beatty no and Kittredge yes. This left a majority of three (Pleicones, Hearn, Beatty) agreeing that the Dennis Canon applied in SC, at least to the 29 parishes.

Bottom line---South Carolina state court recognized the validity of the Dennis Canon as the parishes enacted it. This means that the state of South Carolina now recognizes the Episcopal Church and the Episcopal Church in South Carolina's trust control over the local properties, at least the 29 parishes.

So, what does this mean on a practical level for the 29 parishes that remain under the Church and the Church's diocese?
It means that unless the circuit court intervenes on DSC's side, something that is most unlikely, or the U.S. Supreme Court overturns the SCSC Aug. 2 decision, something that is extremely remote, the Episcopal Church diocese will regain everyday control over at least the 29 properties. These include all the now independent parishes of Charleston.

So, who "owns" the property of the old diocese in South Carolina? There are two sets of properties, diocesan and parochial. On the diocesan, the state supreme court did not act and, in fact, left standing the Temporary Injunction that Judge Goodstein had issued giving the independent diocese possession of the pre-schism diocesan entity. However, the state supreme court recognized the federal court's jurisdiction over the federal trademark issue, and at least implied that the federal court would settle the issue of who owns the diocesan properties. A decision of the U.S. District court in the case of vonRosenberg v. Lawrence should settle the issue of which side owns the entity of the old diocese. Given the fact that federal trademarks take precedent over state, it is likely the federal court will side with the Episcopal Church.

On the parochial question, to my knowledge all of the parishes "own" their own properties through deeds. The Episcopal Church and the Church diocese do not own the properties and have never claimed to own them. What they claim, and the state supreme court has affirmed, is that they have trust control over the properties. So, it is not really a question of who "owns" the property. It is a question of who controls the property. The Church and its diocese maintain that they control the property. The state high court has agreed, at least for 29 of the 36 parishes in question.

There are 13,000 communicants in these 29 parishes. When the Church regains the keys to the churches, which I think is just a matter of time, these people will have to decide whether to stay with the buildings and recognize the Episcopal Church bishop's authority, or leave the buildings and form separate communities in exile presumably following Bishop Lawrence.

I hope this helps you get a clearer picture of the murky issue of the properties. In the Episcopal Church, all local property, even if held by deed, is under the trusteeship of the diocese and the national church. All this really means on an everyday level is that the local congregation cannot dispose of the property without permission of the diocese and cannot take the property out of the Episcopal Church.

The leaders of DSC misled their people into thinking they had the right to violate Episcopal Church law. The high court of South Carolina has ruled that this was wrong. The property remains with the Episcopal Church. That is the reality, however upsetting it may be, in South Carolina now. The leaders of the schism misled the people and now these people have to deal with the consequences. They have my prayers and best wishes.

Monday, December 18, 2017


On December 15, 2017, Church lawyers filed in the circuit court of Dorchester County  "Notice of Motion and Motion to Dismiss Complaint." Find it here .They are asking the court to dismiss the November 19, 2017 Complaint filed by the independent Diocese of South Carolina. In this, DSC demanded payment for "improvements" made to the properties in question under the "Betterments Statute."

The Church's motion to dismiss raised several arguments: that the Complaint was improperly filed because it was not made within 48 hours after the August 2 state supreme court decision; that Plaintiffs are not due relief; and most importantly, the Defendants (TEC/TECSC) do not own the properties in question. The diocesan property is owned by the Trustees of the Protestant Episcopal Church in the Diocese of South Carolina, and the parish properties are owned by the parishes and held in trust for the Church and the Church diocese. Neither the diocese nor the parishes have any right to claim payments from their own beneficiaries. In short, the Church lawyers said DSC's Complaint should be discarded because it was untimely and was improperly filed.

The Plaintiffs (DSC) can now file in court a counter argument. We can expect one perhaps in a few days.

After the counter paper, the circuit court will schedule a hearing.

See the Church diocese's press release on this here . 

Sunday, December 17, 2017


Dear readers, I was so exhausted, and happily so, by the Alabama election last Tuesday, I had to take off a few days to recuperate. I am back. The world looks better to me now than it did a week ago, I am happy to say. I have several comments I want to share with you today. 

I appreciate the good reception my history of the schism has received and the many compliments people have offered. This blog also continues to be widely read, with 76,000 hits in the last four and a half months.


Where are we in terms of the legal issues at hand? 

I expect the next event in the ongoing litigation between the two dioceses will be a response from the Church diocese in the circuit court. According to the state law code, the Episcopal Church in South Carolina has 30 days in which to file a response to the independent diocese's "Complaint" of Nov. 19. That would put it at December 19 or 20, that is, Tuesday or Wednesday of this week. 

You will recall that the Diocese of South Carolina's Complaint was for reparations from TEC/TECSC under the "Betterments Statute." This holds that the people who occupy property belonging to someone else in the mistaken belief of ownership are due repayment for improvements they (the occupants) made. The Complaint was filed in the circuit court of Dorchester County on Nov. 19. In the Complaint, DSC asked for sweeping reimbursements but with no specifics of what they should be (they also gave implicit recognition that the properties belong to TEC/TECSC).

My guess is that the Church lawyers will file for a dismissal of the Complaint. The SC law code says that betterments claims may be filed after a final judgment in favor of the Plaintiffs. In fact, the final judgment (Supreme Court of SC decision of Aug. 2) was in favor of the Defendants (TEC/TECSC). It appears to me as if DSC has no standing to file a Complaint for betterments. This should be grounds for dismissal.

However, DSC has also asked the circuit court for a stay in their Complaint pending the outcome of the appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court. So far, there was been no announcement of an actual appeal to SCOTUS, only statements about plans for an appeal. I do not see how the circuit court could issue a stay until there is something on which to found the stay. Words are not actions.

Be on watch in the next few days for an action of the Church lawyers in the circuit court.

As I have said, I think the DSC side will drag out the litigation as long as possible before finally accepting what the state supreme court has already ruled. We have a long way to go.


Now that we have had a few days to review the vote of last Tuesday in the special election for the U.S. Senate, what conclusions can we reasonably draw? Here are the outstanding ones I see:

1.---Rejection of President Trump.

This cannot be emphasized enough. Alabama is one of the "reddest" states in America. Just over a year ago, the state voted for Trump 62.1%, and for Clinton, 34.4%. That was a whopping 28% margin for Trump! Alabama voters provided one of the highest state majorities for Trump. The best summary of the AL vote is found here .

The election showed that President Trump now has the support of fewer than half of Alabama. The favorable/unfavorable breakdown for Trump was 48%-48%. In other words, as many people in Alabama now disapprove of Trump as approve. This is a staggering turnaround in only a little more than a year. The reasons for this dramatic reversal should be explored. At this point, we have only anecdotal evidence and not scientific surveys to explain why.

Nevertheless, the vote last Tuesday was as much about Trump as it was about Moore. Judging from the Alabama vote last Tuesday, Republicans should be alarmed about their prospects in the 2018 Congressional elections.

2.---"Evangelicals" in Alabama voted as a block for a credibly accused child molester and sexual predator.

"Born again" Christians voted (80%) for Roy Moore, just as they had done (80%) last year for Trump, another credibly accused sexual predator. Why?
One word, abortion.

I do not question the evangelicals' motives as I do not fault them for voting their consciences. The problem I have with them is their myopia. They have fixated too much on one issue. They are defining Christianity only in narrow terms of support for their preconceived social views. This has blinded them to the light of the broader Christian moral/ethical values at stake. Their backing of candidates whose behaviors were arguably anti- or at least unchristian has brought disrepute on the whole religion of Christianity.

3.---African Americans and young people were energized against the Republicans and President Trump.

On the whole, more African Americans went out to vote last Tuesday than had done so for Obama in 2008 and 2012. Why?

One reason was reverence for Doug Jones. 
Let me explain. The heinous murder of the four little girls in Birmingham in 1963 by the Ku Klux Klan was the pivotal moment in the state's Civil Rights movement. It was the worst of the worst. It took a long time for justice to be done, but it finally came. It was Doug Jones who prosecuted the last of the Klan murderers and got their convictions in 2002. One cannot emphasize enough the high regard the African American, and others, in Alabama have for Jones. Last Tuesday, they lined up to return the favor with the four angels in mind.

The mobilization in the African American community was quiet. I for one completely missed it. I think this culminated in the week before the election through two main events. In one, the basketball great Charles Barkley campaigned for turnout. He is the most influential African American in the state of Alabama, a huge rock star. He is a native of Pell City, and still maintains a home there. He is an icon in this state. His word counts beyond measure.

A second big event was the appearance, covered widely on TV, of Steve Bannon. It was foolish enough for him to belittle the education reputation of the University of Alabama (to diss Joe Scarborough). It was spectacularly bad for him to criticize Condoleeza Rice (she had appealed for votes against Moore). As Barkley, Rice is an revered icon in this state. This Birmingham native keeps close ties and appears in the state often. Who cares if she is a Republican? She is our local woman made good, very good, and Alabamians of all political views are extremely proud of her. So, I am beginning to wonder if Bannon is not really a secret agent of the Democrats. The Republicans have a real problem with him. It is no wonder he was kicked out of the White House. I suspect he won more votes for Jones than for Moore.

---Most young people, most independents, and many college-educated white women voted for Jones.

Not only were blacks energized to get out and vote, so were young people. Jones won a big majority of all voters under the age of 44. The major university areas, Tuscaloosa County (Univ. of Alabama) and Lee County (Auburn Univ.) went overwhelmingly for Jones. What is more, they had gone overwhelmingly for Trump only a year earlier. There was a dramatic reversal against the Republicans, and Trump, in the college towns.

Another important voting demographic was white women. Although most of them voted for Moore, they did so in much smaller numbers than they had for Trump. In fact, there was a 16-20 point gap last Tuesday between white men and white women for Moore. 

Although it is difficult to measure, the accusations against Moore must have influenced white urban/suburban women to vote against him. Weeks before the election, nine Alabama women came forth with credible accusations against Moore of sexually predatory behavior. Moore denied all the charges. These accusations probably would not have received the attention they did except for the "Me Too" movement that was sweeping America at the same time. Numerous high-profile men on the national stage were credibly accused of sexual harassment and assault. Some of them were forced out of their jobs. The national attention of this issue only focused the spotlight more on Moore's past. No doubt this was a factor in determining the votes of many white women and accounting for the large gap in vote for Moore between white men and white women.

Everyone is trying to make sense of the shocking vote in Alabama. It was highly dramatic, to be sure. But, I would caution Democrats from reading too much into this. Much of the outcome of last Tuesday's election came from factors peculiar to Alabama. And, Alabama is not a microcosm of America. African Americans turned out for Jones to repay a priceless favor. Too, do not neglect the fact that Roy Moore was about the worst candidate imaginable. Outside of his fanatical "born again" base and die-hard Republicans, he had no appeal and refused even to try to cultivate any. In fact, he barely campaigned at all. Most of the time he hid from the public.

Thus, Moore's defeat last Tuesday came from a highly unusual set of factors peculiar to Alabama and others external to Alabama. The vote was obviously good news for Democrats and bad for Republicans, but both sides would do well to factor in the conditions internal in Alabama.


There is a new book out that I have ordered and look forward to reading. It is Frances FitzGerald's The Evangelicals: The Struggle to Shape America. NY: Simon and Schuster, 2017. 750 p. (even longer than my history of the schism).

This book has been widely praised as the best survey of the political roles of the "evangelical" Protestants in America. Time magazine ranked it as one of the ten best non-fiction books of the year.

More than half of the book deals with the political roles of the evangelicals in the past few decades.

The proper interaction of religion and politics is an issue as old as the nation. As Christians, just how are we to apply our religion to the civil sphere around us? What does it mean to have separation of church and state?

One event that bothered me in the recent campaign came from these very questions.

On Nov. 17, a group of 59 clergy in Alabama issued an open letter criticizing Moore as "not fit for office." Find it here . Although they claimed they were not telling people how to vote and were only speaking as individuals, they identified themselves with titles and church affiliations. I cringed. It seemed to me they were making an unmistakable implication on how to vote. How else was one suppose to take this in the middle of a hotly contested campaign? I found this objectionable as a violation of the principle of the separation of church and state. I had no qualms about what they said. In fact, I wholeheartedly agreed with them. If they had done this as private citizens without religious identities, there wold have been no problem.

I think the first part of the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution is sacrosanct and we must do all we can to defend and preserve it. To be consistent, we must object to both the "evangelicals'" and the "liberals'" institutionalized interference in politics. We saw glaring examples of both in the recent election in Alabama. In my view, both were wrong.

We should vote our consciences as individuals. We should not vote our church affiliations. For the sake of both, we must keep the separation of church and state.

Tuesday, December 12, 2017


Election eve in Alabama is an appropriate time to return to the big picture. I think it will help us make sense of what is going on in politics and in the schism in South Carolina. The two are not unrelated. I argue they are very much related. They are both part of a much bigger phenomenon, a great culture war in contemporary America (and really in the world). If we get a better understanding of what is going on, we will have a better chance at dealing with it in the best way.

There is a great culture war going on in America. For simplicity's sake, I will call the two sides in conflict the democratic force and anti-democratic force. They are at war in both the civic state and the Episcopal/Anglican state. Let me explain.

The twentieth century was the most transformative period perhaps in all of human history, but certainly in modern times (I would argue that the life of Jesus Christ was the single most important event in human history). The century can be broken down into halves. In the first half, three monumental events occurred to destroy the old structures. 1-the First World War. It ended the monarchical system and its attendant supporting class structures. 2-the Great Depression. Shook capitalism but ultimately reaffirmed it. Also introduced the principle that it is the function of the civic state to provide for its people (populism). 3-the Second World War. Destroyed the anti-democratic forces of fascism, nazism, aggressive militarism, racism, and, in delayed action, communism (USSR fell in 1991). The democratic political system became the operative norm around the world (even impacting on important non-democratic systems). The call for human rights arose.

The second half of the twentieth century brought the effects of the three great early events. I call it the Great Democratic Revolution. This was the incorporation of the triumphant democratic principles in society and culture. In America, there was the post-War rise of the great middle class, the G.I. Bill, the rise of education for the masses, the Civil Rights movement, the women's liberation movement, Medicare (for the old), Medicaid (for the poor). The landmark event in the women's movement was Roe v. Wade, the U.S. Supreme Court decision that recognized the legality of abortion (woman's right to control her own body). The democratic sweep went on to extend to homosexuals equal rights and inclusion into society. This led to the U.S. Supreme Court's legalization of same-sex marriage in 2015. Thus, the Great Democratic Revolution swept America, and in large measure the world, from about 1950 at least to 2015. As a result, culture and society are profoundly different now than they were a century ago.

All social/cultural institutions in America had to react to the democratic sweep of the twentieth. Historically, the Episcopal Church had been largely indifferent to the sins of commission and omission in the society all around it. However, at mid-century, the Church made a dramatic reversal and resolved to throw itself into the forefront of the human rights revolution. It started with Civil Rights. Then came a new, arguably democratized, prayer book. Also it turned to women's equality, including ordination. And, finally the Church turned to inclusion of and equal rights for non-celibate homosexuals. This resulted in the Church's adoption of marriage equality in 2015.

The democratic revolution in the civic state and in the Church were majority movements. The reforms were made through the old standing institutional structures. In the government, the Congress, the president, and the Supreme Court all played roles in carrying out the reforms. In the Church, all reforms were made by the General Convention. The changes were made legally, honestly, above board. However, while the reforms were supported by majorities in both state and church, there arose strong minority oppositions in both. There were plenty of people who objected to one or more of the changes going on.

In the civic state, the sweeping changes moved headlong through the 1950s and most of the 60s. However, 1968 brought a truning point. Its assassinations and widespread street violence led many people to fear the reforms had gone too far and had been too disruptive of the social fabric, perhaps even leading to chaos and anarchy. A feeling of counter-revolution began to grow. This was first evident in the Republican Party's Southern Strategy which sought to capitalize on the anti-Civil Rights backlash among southern whites. Under the slogan "law and order" southern whites began their inexorable trek from the Democratic to the Republican Party and blacks from the Republican to the Democratic. Backlash against women's equality led to the defeat of the proposed Equal Rights Amendment and the rise of the anti-abortion movement in the 1970s. President Reagan, in the 1980s, presided over a certain stabilization as he transferred wealth from the middle to the richer classes and adopted an aggressive foreign policy. He was immensely popular. 

Then, by 1990, another great change occurred. With the dissolution of the old Soviet Union, the U.S. became the world's only super power. The world arrived at the Pax Americana, imperfect as it was. This rivaled earlier solitary power periods, as the Pax Romana (0-200) and the Pax Britannia (1800s). The problem that inevitably appears in a "Pax" period of unrivaled power, is that the internal fractures of a society are left exposed. Once the external unifying factor of foreign threat is removed, there may be little to hold together competing interests within a society. I think this is the case in America today. In a way, we are the victims of our own success. Without a serious foreign threat, we are turning against each other. Some people call this "tribalism." We have even developed our own sets of reality and "facts" that are strikingly at odds. Fox News and MCNBC describe two different worlds. 

In the civic state, the rising internal divisions can be seen very clearly. In the 1990s, the polarization first became clear as the nation divided on how to react to President Clinton's character flaws. He was impeached but not removed from office. The fractures only grew as the Supreme Court stepped in to rule the election of 2000 for the Republican even though he was not the choice of the voters. Even the attack of 9-11, in 2001, did not change the dynamic. "Terrorism" was too vague to unify the country for long. Who were the terrorists? In 2008, the election of the first president of African heritage accelerated the backlash against the democratic reforms. Obama was the very personification of the reforms. The Tea Party organized a resistance. After Obama Care's passage, the Republicans in Congress refused to pass any other significant act in his presidency. On the far right, Donald Trump stoked the myth that Obama was an illegitimate president. This was racist backlash. 

Thus, from the 1960s to the early 2000s, the U.S. went through monumental reforms for human rights but also experienced serious backlash. In history, every great revolution is followed by a lesser counter-revolution. After the counter runs its course, a sort of compromise settles things down but leaves the bulk of the revolutionary reforms in place.

With the election of 2016 and the rise of Trump and Trumpism, this counter-revolution took a new turn. Since the conservative forces were unable to stop the wave of reform, they took to attacking the very institutions that had made the reforms. Trump is leading the charge. Steve Bannon calls this the "deconstruction of the administrative state." And so, Trump appointed many cabinet members who are opposed to the very departments they are supposed to lead. He attacked right off the intelligence community and the diplomatic corps. He has also campaigned against the FBI and the free press which he called the enemy of the people. He has denounced judges. He has fought openly with members of Congress, even of his own party. He is trying to transform the constitutional system into an autocracy. He openly praises dictators around the world. The investigation into collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russian government is apparently closing in on Trump. His supporters are demanding the sacking of the lead investigator, Robert Mueller. Thus, the counter-revolution has changed from simply opposing the reforms of the state to opposing the structure of the state. This is frightening.

On a more local level, Roy Moore represents the same deconstruction. As chief justice of the Alabama supreme court, he declared that federal law did not have to be obeyed. He did this twice, once in defiance of a federal court order and again in refusal of a decision of the U.S. Supreme Court. He adamantly refused to bend on both and was removed from office on both. To Moore and his followers, the U.S. Constitution is inferior to their own view of the state, which is really a theocracy.

In the Episcopal Church, something similar occurred. From the 1950s to 2006, the counter-revolutionary forces in the Church fought to stop the hated reforms. They lost on every turn, especially on new prayer book, women's ordination, and inclusion of non-celibate homosexuals. What brought this to a head were two highly visible events, the affirmation of a non-celibate gay man as a bishop in 2003, and the election of the first woman as presiding bishop in 2006. These personalized the complete victory of the human rights reforms of the Episcopal Church, similarly to the way Obama's election did in the civic state. 

Realizing their final defeats, the most defiant Episcopalians decided, as the Trumpians were to do, to deconstruct the state as their last resort. From 2007 to 2012, five dioceses voted to leave the Episcopal Church and form a new anti-Episcopal Church, called the Anglican Church in North America. It was obviously meant as the beacon to draw out the rest of the anti-democratic irreconcilables from the Episcopal Church. It was devoted to reversing at least the most most hated reform, for homosexuals. (They failed to agree on women and are now collapsing on that unresolved issue.) 

Thus, the counter-revolution against the democratic reforms came in two phases, first, warfare against the reforms and second, deconstruction of the state. It had only very limited success at the first. The counter-revolutionaries will fail at the second too although it is too soon to know just how much damage they can do to the established institutional structure. Trumpism is a serious threat even though Trump has only about a third of the American people supporting his deconstruction tactics. Still, as president he has enormous power to proceed on with his ideas of changes. So far, he has the open support of the Republican leaders in Congress, and they have the majority vote in both houses. It may very well be that a major constitutional crisis is looming, especially if Mueller reveals incriminating evidence that Trump, or his close aides, colluded with the Russians to interfere in the 2016 election. 

I believe the civic state and the Church are structurally strong enough to survive the attacks on them. Nevertheless, the counter-revolutionaries can, indeed already have, inflict great harm on the institutions they hold responsible for the hated reforms. 

As I have said before, from what I see now, I think the schismatics in South Carolina will carry out their deconstruction of the Episcopal Church to the bitter end. I see no sign of their willingness to compromise and make peace. Quite the opposite, DSC has brought a new lawsuit and an announced appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court. 

The anti-democratic forces know they cannot reverse the great reforms that have became embedded in the civic and religious states. I think what they are trying to do now is inflict as much harm as they can on the institutions that they blame for making the reforms. The motivation for this could be pure revenge, or could be an attempt to block any possible new reform.

I think it helps us understand the schism in South Carolina if we put it in the broader context of the culture war going on in America. The great democratic reforms in state and church have been made. I for one am tremendously proud of both for their records in championing human rights. It was the right thing to do. Yet, I also understand why others may not agree, indeed even why they want to tear down the institutions that made the reforms. I understand their positions, but I do not agree with them. They are on the wrong side of history.

So, Moore may carry the election tomorrow in Alabama and Trump may fire Mueller, but neither can stop the progress of history.

Monday, December 11, 2017

(with updates)


JONES (D) WINS ! ! !

UPDATE: 9:50 p.m.
I sit at my computer with tears in my eyes and a lump in my throat. Doug Jones, the Democrat, has been declared the winner of the Senate race in Alabama. I am thrilled to say that my prediction of a Moore win was wrong! 

---Alabama has redeemed itself from its George Wallace past.

---The people of Alabama have put morality above politics.

---Many fervent followers of President Trump in Alabama have rejected Trump.

---The Democratic party in the Deep South has been resurrected from the dead.

I will have more remarks later. Right now I am going to celebrate.

DEC. 12, 9:30 P.M., 90% of vote, Jones-578,555, Moore-566,984.

9:20 p.m.: JONES TAKES THE LEAD. 87% of vote, Jones, 553,935, Moore-553,118.

9:00 p.m.: 77% of vote, Moore-50%, Jones-48%.

8:55 p.m.: 67% of vote, Moore-51%, Jones-48%.

8:35 p.m.: 51% of vote, Moore-51%, Jones-47%.

8:25 p.m.: 34% of vote, Moore-51%, Jones-47%.
8:05 p.m.: 12% of vote, Moore-50.4%, Jones-48.4%.

8 p.m.: 5% of vote, Moore-51.2%, Jones 47.4%.

7:45 p.m.:
1% of vote, Jones-62%, Moore-38%. Jones leading in metropolitan centers. 

UPDATE: DEC. 12, 7 p.m.:

Polls have closed. Exit polls show African American vote running at 30% (Obama got 28%). Moore is winning 70% of white vote. Still considered a toss-up. Returns as available.

UPDATE: DEC. 12, 4 P.M.:

Reports are showing continuation of heavier than expected voting everywhere. Cable TV outlets have released exit polls that show the race a toss up except for one glaring finding. Voters were split evenly on approval/disapproval of President Trump, 48% to 48%. This is a shocker in a state that voted for Trump nearly 2 to 1. This may be read as an indicator against the Republican candidate. It may also indicate heavier than expected Democratic voting.

UPDATE: DEC. 12, 2 p.m.:

TV reports indicate robust voting in cities, suburbs, Black Belt, and rural areas. Lines and waiting in many polls. In Montgomery County, 16% of registered voters had voted by noon. If this holds, that county would have 35-40% voting by 7 p.m., well beyond the pre-vote expectation of 25%. A report from Mobile and Baldwin counties suggested 45% of voters going for Jones. If true, this would indicate a Jones victory as these counties are very highly Republican. Mobile, Tuscaloosa, and Madison (Huntsville) are key counties. Heavy votes for Jones there would indicate a Jones victory. Caution---it is still too early and there is too little evidence to jump to conclusions.

Our next evidence of probable outcome will be the exit polls that should be announced soon.


Early anecdotal reports show strong turnout in suburbs of Birmingham, Mobile and Huntsville, especially among white women. This is a very promising sign in favor of Jones. In some places long lines were at the door when polls opened at 7 a.m.

I voted in my precinct at 9 a.m. As far as I could tell, voting was running around 25% of the electorate. If that is true, it would be a relatively high turnout for this kind of special election.

Local TV reports are showing lines in some places and busy polls all around. Weather not a factor.

All of this adds up to good news for the Jones side. Still, too early to jump to conclusions. Race is very tight and sides are deeply divided.

UPDATE: DECEMBER 12, 7 a.m.:


It is a beautiful day here in Alabama, sunny and mild, from the 60s along the coast to the 40s in the north.

So, what can we expect today?

Looking back over the campaign, I see that a major change took place, and I think this happened because of the intense national-international scrutiny focused on the state. The race started out mostly about abortion and ended mostly about the character of Roy Moore, and by extension the reputation of the state. 

There are three groups of voters today, 1-Moore devotees, 2-yellow dog Democrats, and 3-the middle (mostly Republicans). The election hangs on #3. These people are mainly suburbanites, particularly the women. I think two things are at work among #3, repulsion of  Moore and concern over the reputation of Alabama. One should not underestimate the latter. 

What to look for today:

1. Numbers of voters.

2. Turnout of African Americans.

3. Age range of voters.

4. Voting in the suburbs.

The polls show it as a toss-up. Conventional wisdom says Moore will win narrowly. My head says so, but my heart says I long for Alabama to do the right thing, to redeem itself from its dark past. This is the most important day in the political history of Alabama in several decades and Alabamians know it.

I will be voting asap. 

I will post updates through the day. Polls are open from 7 to 7, CST. 


UPDATE: DECEMBER 11, 4:00 p.m.:

I may have to change my prediction about the election. Pundits are now saying the race is a toss-up. Here is what I see from today's information:

---Interest in the sexual allegations has declined. There has been a significant drop in number of people who believe the reports.

---Trump's endorsement and campaign appearances in nearby states over the weekend have rallied Moore's base.

---Money has suddenly appeared and Moore is running competing ads on TV.

---Sen. Shelby only prominent state Republican to reject Moore.

---Fox News poll of Dec. 10 showed Jones with 10 point lead. No doubt, this is an outlier. The Real Clear Average of polls shows Moore ahead by 2.2 pts. This is realistic. My favorite political poll guru, Nate Silver, says Moore has a slight lead (

---Momentum. Some trends moving in Jones's favor. PredictIt ( shows Moore favored by 70-30; however, M dropped by 9 points today.

---Fundamentalist/evangelical support for Moore has dropped from 73% to 65%. Support among white men has dropped to a 2% edge.

---Independents for Jones by more than 2 to 1. Fox poll shows J-50%, M-22%.

---Turnout. The primaries in August drew 18% turnout. Tomorrow's is expected to be at least 25%. Absentee ballots already 9% higher, nine times the usual number in Tuscaloosa County (home of Univ. of AL).


Turnout, turnout, turnout. A low turnout with a lot of senior citizens will work in Moore's favor. A heavy turnout with a lot of younger people will be in Jones's favor. Watch esp. turnout in Black Belt. The weather is supposed to be perfect tomorrow, sunny and mild.

Bottom line---I am more hopeful of a Jones win now than I was early this morning. I will keep you posted on the trends I see tomorrow. I still expect Moore to win, but it is going to be closer than I had thought. Momentum is for Jones and who knows what can happen overnight. A Jones win would be absolutely earthshaking in AL with reverberations everywhere else.


On Nov. 16, I offered my thoughts on the situation in Alabama (see below). I would not change anything I said. I would update it.

I see two different campaigns going on, one in AL and one in the nation. In AL, it is a culture war, in the nation a political war. They are far different. The majority of the whites in AL have focused all their cultural understandings onto one issue, abortion. Moore is against it. Jones is in favor. There is the election. Moore will win, even if narrowly. Why will Moore win?

---Historically AL votes on cultural and not economic issues. Most Alabamians are completely oblivious to Trump's new pending tax "reform" that will drastically impact negatively on the economic needs of most Alabamians. Time and again, Alabama whites vote against their own economic interests. For instance, AL has the most regressive tax structure in America and AL voters are completely unconcerned.

---AL is more Trumpian than Trump. 90% of the whites in AL voted for Trump last year. AL is one of the two or three reddest states in the U.S. If anything, they are more for him now than then. His weekend visits to Pensacola and Jackson sounded loud dog whistles to his devotees in AL. Trump is ingenious at playing on the cultural views of most whites in AL (racism, gender, homosexuality, provincialism). Moore is Trump on steroids and most whites love it. The Trump-Moore movement is basically the backlash of the angry white working class men against the forces they believe are out to defeat them (esp. blacks, women, homosexuals, foreigners). While it is a social movement, those in it define it as a cultural one (hence the focus on abortion).

---The base of the Democratic vote in AL is the African American population. I see little enthusiasm there. Besides, AL has been actively suppressing black vote for years. There are not enough blacks, progressive white Dems and moderate Reps to carry the election for Jones.

---The AL Republican establishment has solidified around Moore. Some, as the governor, have said they believe his accusers but they are for him anyway. Again, they are defining this race in cultural and not moral terms.

---I expect that many, if not most, Alabamians do not care if Moore molested or stalked young girls. They would probably blame the girls. They did not care that Moore, as the chief judge in the state, defiantly violated the law, not once but TWICE, and was removed from office TWICE. It was WHY he violated the law that they loved---to defend "God's law" against the state. Moore is the champion of the born-again Christians ( a huge force in AL). He is their knight battling the dark forces of evil in the world (separation of church and state, racial equality, women's right to control their own bodies, equal rights for homosexuals). Most whites in AL define this race as the struggle for God's rule. They will turn out to vote in droves.

And so, dear readers, it is with a heavy heart that I have to predict that Moore will win on Tuesday. This is another disaster in the history of AL and the U.S. The saddest thing of all is that we can expect more Moores around America. Donald Trump has legitimized and "normalized" this kind of anti-democratic and anti-Constitutional demagogery. I would like to think Moore is the end, but I fear he is only a beginning. If only I were wrong, no one would be happier than I.


Dear reader, please indulge me in a moment of diversion from the schism in South Carolina. Something important is happening in Alabama, and the whole world is watching.

OK, I admit it, I live in Alabama. I first moved here in 1971. What is more, I live near Gadsden; and yes, I shop often in the Gadsden Mall. I do not know Roy Moore. I do not know any of his accusers, but I believe these women. I know this part of Alabama. What they are saying has a loud ring of truth. So, what are we to make of all the stories crowding the news reports these days? With its less than stellar past, Alabama is sometimes called the state of embarrassment. What is going on with Roy Moore is not surprising; and it is nothing new. (The unofficial motto is Alabama is, "Thank God for Mississippi". MS keeps AL from being 50th in every list.)

If you think your state government leaves much to be desired, you should look at Alabama. It will make you thankful for what you have. Recall, this was a state that elected George Wallace, not once, twice, or three times, but four times, and his wife once. This is the Wallace who, confined to a wheelchair, spent his last days apologizing for his whole life. It is Alabama that should have been apologizing for ever electing him.

The heads of all three branches of the Alabama state government have been removed from office for wrongdoing one way or another in the last months. In June of 2016, Mike Hubbard, the speaker of the state House of Representatives was convicted on 12 felony ethics charges, and subsequently sentenced to 4 years in prison. In April of 2017, Governor Robert Bentley resigned from office rather than face removal following a sex scandal. Rumors had it that his wife of 46 years who found out and turned him in. They have divorced. Then, there is Roy Moore. In May of 2016 he was suspended from his office as Chief Justice of the Alabama Supreme Court by a state commission because he defied federal law. He told probate judges in the state they did not have to recognize the U.S. Supreme Court ruling on same-sex marriage. Still suspended, Moore resigned from office in April of 2017 in order to run for the U.S. Senate.

Roy Moore is a well-known figure in the state, and has been for many years. He rose through the legal ranks in Etowah County (Gadsden) as a defiant religious zealot, displaying the Ten Commandments conspicuously in court. "The Ten Commandments Judge" developed a strongly devoted base of fundamentalists/evangelical devotees in the state who believed that the state should be subject to the church. (AL and MS have the highest church membership in the U.S., both mostly fundamentalist/evangelical.) Moore and his followers do not understand the Constitution of the United States. They have no patience for the fundamental American principle of the separation of church and state. They do not understand the First Amendment.

Moore was elected Chief Justice of the Alabama Supreme Court in 2001 and immediately installed a 5,000 pound monument to the Ten Commandments in the rotunda of the supreme court building in Montgomery. The ACLU took him to court on the First Amendment and a federal judge ordered the removal of the monument. Moore refused. His followers hailed him as a great hero. The state ethics board removed him from office.

He was just getting warmed up. In 2012, he ran for the seat of Chief Justice again, and won. His base celebrated the return of their fighting hero. When the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in favor of same-sex marriage in 2015, Moore told the probate courts of the state they did not have to follow federal law. Moore was promptly suspended from office, again, by the state judicial commission. So, Moore, the highest judicial official of Alabama twice told people they did not have to follow the law; and twice he was removed from office. This man is now the Republican candidate for the U.S. Senate. In the primary, he beat out the former Attorney General and Senate-appointee, Luther Strange. President Trump even campaigned in AL on behalf of Strange (It should tell you a lot that even Trump found Moore to be too much). 

The accusations of Moore's sexual misconduct are new, and this is a problem. Why did the women wait until now? (Nine women as of today.) It makes sense to me. You have to understand the deeply embedded sexism in the culture. Even now, in an age of growing awareness of sexual harassment, Alabama lags way behind. So, for these women to come out, and give their names, not to mention all the details, means a great deal. Believe me, this makes them entirely credible. The sad thing is, they should have done this long ago. But, I understand why they did not.

So, what happens now?

Today it looks as if Moore will remain in the race. He is certainly not leaving on his own. His followers are demanding that he stay in the race. The state Republican establishment is supporting him. Governor Kay Ivey, who replaced Bentley, says she is voting for Moore. I see no movement at all on the state level for Moore to leave the race, or to change the terms of the election. However, I detect cracks in Moore's base as local Republicans here and there are beginning to turn against him, astonishing on its own.

Will Moore get elected to the U.S. Senate? A few days ago, I would have said, yes. Now, I think it is a toss up and the situation is fluid. If the already strong case against Moore of pedophilia and sexual predatory behavior toward young women continues to grow, enough public opinion may begin to bend against him. His base will never desert him, just as Donald Trump's base would never leave him. It does not matter what these men do, their hardcore followers will support them anyway. This group, however, is a minority of the population. Moore's solid base is a minority in Alabama. The Democrats in Alabama are not numerous enough to carry the election on their own. The outcome, then, will depend on the suburban Republicans around the cities, particularly Birmingham, Huntsville, and Tuscaloosa. This group is hard to read at the moment. I think if matters continue on as they are going, the majority in the suburbs will vote against Moore, not so much for Jones, but against Moore. The key is the white woman Republican suburbanite. 

We have several more weeks to go before the election. My prediction is that if the story on Moore continues on the present track, the Democratic candidate, Doug Jones has a good chance of winning the election. If he does, Alabamians will go a long way to restoring decency and ethics to our government. If the voters choose Moore, Alabamians will validate the too-familiar stereotypes of the state, and for good reason. Roy Moore is Donald Trump on steroids, or the reincarnation of George Wallace without the overt racism. For this, we cannot rule out Moore winning in Alabama. Trump won this state 2 to 1. 

Alabama is a wonderful place in so many ways. I would not be here if I did not think that. It is beautiful country, from the gentle verdant hills of the north to the emerald waters of the south. The people are kind, honest, and generous. If you sit on a bench in Wal-Mart, I will guarantee you within 5 minutes someone will sit down and tell you all about their family and want to know about your kin. In traffic, if you let someone in, you will invariably get a thank-you wave. Here, all problems can be solved by food, and all ugly comments can be made good by "bless his/her heart." So, the shortcomings of Alabamians do not come from the heart, they come from the head. To be sure, the shortcomings are serious: e.g. racism, sexism, and homophobia. But, these can be changed; and I think there is evidence they are being repaired, however slowly.  

There is an old saying, people get the government they deserve. I wonder what Alabamians did to deserve what they have. I do not know. But, I know there is a chance at redemption, and it is coming up in a few weeks. We will see.