The Corner

Politics & Policy

The Stigma of Gantryism

In Impromptus today, I begin with Roy Moore, and related matters. I thought I would say a little more here.

When Moore first came to national attention — some 20 years ago — I was favorable toward him. I was defensive of him. Why? He had placed the Ten Commandments in his courtroom. He was in trouble for it.

I thought it was wonderfully natural to place the Ten Commandments in an American courtroom. This is the foundation of our law, as Moore said. I was sick of “the naked public square,” to use a once-current phrase.

But then — we have Moore today.

Let me quote from my Impromptus:

A lot of good Alabamians, no doubt, contributed to Moore’s charity, the Foundation for Moral Law. (Wonderful name, wonderful concept.) He ripped them off, using the foundation as a personal piggy bank. And now he has ripped them off in another way, you could say: He has embarrassed them and the “cause.”

For years and years — ever since the Scopes trial in the 1920s — the religious Right has tried to escape the stigma of Gantryism. And time after time, the Roy Moores — the Jimmy Swaggarts, the Jim Bakkers, the Falwell Juniors — kill them.

At least that’s the way I see it . . . 

Many years ago, I was talking with David Pryce-Jones, after I had returned from the Middle East — from Egypt, specifically. P-J made this remark: “Wonderful people, betrayed by their intellectuals.”

A true and deep statement. And evangelical Christians, it seems to me, have been betrayed by their leaders, time after time.

Which leads me to Billy Graham — who stands ever taller, I think (and he is 99). There is someone evangelicals can look up to. Who does not cause them embarrassment.

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