No, Public Officials Aren’t “Ministers of God”

Oh Alabama…Are you trying to out-Texas Texas?

For years, we’ve watched the antics of crazy Judge Roy Moore–he of the 5-ton Ten Commandments fiasco– who somehow managed to get himself re-elected to the Alabama Supreme Court a couple of years ago. (Moore is a poster child for the proposition that Judges ought not be popularly elected.)

In the wake of the Supreme Court’s ruling on same-sex marriage, Moore has (predictably) gone over the edge. Far, far over. So has the lawyer representing him, who is apparently as delusional about the American legal system and the settled meaning of the First Amendment as his client.

In a letter to Alabama’s Governor urging defiance of the Supreme Court’s decision, the lawyer–Win Johnson–wrote:

Public officials are ministers of God assigned the duty of punishing the wicked and protecting the righteous. If the public officials decide to officially approve of the acts of the wicked, they must logically not protect the righteous from the wicked. In fact, they must become protectors of the wicked. You cannot serve two masters; you must pick — God or Satan.

And you know whose side that crafty Satan is on….

I’m not sure what law school Mr. Johnson attended, but the fact that he actually matriculated should be cause for considerable concern.

This isn’t just a misunderstanding of separation of church and state;  it’s civil law as understood by the Taliban.


  1. Good Grief that guy. I have family in Alabama. Several are gay. They think he should be disbarred.

  2. He has a bizarre Facebook Page with his thoughts and actions, some well supported by members of his staff and friends! Unbelievable! His County Clerk resigned rather than issue Gay Marriage Licenses because she “would rather obey God”. I am glad I don’t live there!

  3. I keep saying this but shouldn’t they let god decide by opening or closing the gate to heaven on a case-by-case basis? I guess they think they speak for god; but I have to think that the all mighty is smarter than that.

  4. Win Johnson’s letter could have been dialogue taken directly from the movie, “Inherit The Wind”. This level of GOP foolishness during 2016 early presidential campaigning will be part of the speeches by their entire herd of contenders. If there was anyone in control of what is going on; they would have sense enough to thin out that herd of wannabes before it increases.

  5. As for the clerks resigning rather than handing out marriage licenses to same-sex couples, I salute them. If they are no longer able to fulfill the duties of the office—due to conscientious objection or poor health—they should resign.

    Of course, in the eyes of Justice Moore and his counsel, the resigning official is undoubtedly serving Satan by giving over the office to some heathen who will marry two goats if they ask.

    I also have to wonder how Justice Moore can be removed from the bench by the disciplinary authorities for his refusal to obey a court order yet can be re-elected to the position. Here in Indiana it seems that if a judicial officer is removed he or she is barred from holding judicial office again. Alabama is a bit like the Wild West in that sense—see the case of Harry Claiborne, a federal judge impeached and convicted for income tax evasion and who quickly got his law license restored by the state of Nevada. I don’t get it. I just don’t get it.

  6. I would insert a crack about the dumb Southerners…. but I am writing from Indiana so…

  7. For quite some time now, the sane people in northern Indiana have been referring to our state as the “Alabama of the Midwest”. Pence and his crazy religious right cronies would be thrilled if they could get away with this and they have certainly been working diligently to move (force) our state further into Alabama territory.

  8. It isn’t too surprising that he matriculated, but it may be surprising that he graduated.

  9. “Moore is a poster child for the proposition that Judges ought not be popularly elected.”

    Just a few weeks ago, you were here complaining that Democracy is under attack, and here you present the greatest possible direct attack on Democracy.

  10. “Public officials are ministers of God assigned the duty of punishing the wicked and protecting the righteous.”

    Oh, I don’t know, Sheila.

    His sentence still holds after a quick revision.

    “Public officials are assigned the duty of punishing the wicked and protecting the righteous.”

    Who could object to that?

  11. “Taliban,” huh?

    There’s no separation of church and state in Israel.

    The Jews say that it’s a Jewish state built for the Jewish people. Why should Americans have less of a right to identity than Jews?

  12. I’ve always been fascinated by evolution. Talk about an intelligent design! Continual experiments to find better adaptation with success rewarded by replication and failure by decline. Wow!

    Then I read stories like this and wonder. This is the species that evolution rewarded?

    Now I realize this is more about culture than physical evolution but still. Extinction seems like just desserts.

    Like everyone I know folks of every possible Faith and faith and doubt if there are any two precisely alike. As that seems to me like absolutely the most personal of beliefs who am I to question what anyone has chosen that settles the Universe for them? There is absolutely no advantage to anyone to have what people believe about the purpose of their lives questioned by those living other lives.

    Including Judge Moore. If hisFaith/faith works for him so be it.

    But we’re talking about his job here and the power his job gives him over others of different Faith/faith. He is clearly unable to do his job and in a democracy he would be fired by his constituents for dereliction of duty.

    But Alabama was apparently re-admitted to the Union prematurely before the value of freedom had been learned and incorporated into their culture. The North Korea of America. It just doesn’t fit here.

  13. This is a misinterpretation of scripture, where Paul tells believers that they need to “pay your taxes and government fees to those who collect them, and give respect and honor to those who are in authority”(Romans 13:7), because God, who is sovereign, places people in positions of authority to serve others. It’s a relationship. The idea is that if you follow the laws, the people who are assigned to uphold them will respect you. Makes sense.

    The Alabama guy is not so much focused on their obligation to serve the public and uphold the laws of the state as he is on the power of self-righteous, rigid authoritarian employees to punish evildoers. For him, public employees are not so much public servants as they are little kings. We have all run across those types who cause more problems more than they solve.

  14. It’s interesting, as Gopper points out, that in the birthplace of 3 of the great religions they never learned that theocracies don’t and can’t work. The trouble there appears to be endless and when the value of their oil drops to zero things will only get worse.

    Our current President is as right as our former Presidents were wrong. Contain the trouble through negotiation instead of investing our blood and treasure in trying to fix what cannot work.

  15. Leviathan is sounding – off.

    This is part of the death throes as rule by old white guys approaches its end.

  16. Gopper. America is a Constitutionally based, democratic, republic.

    Religion offers none of those features that are deemed humanity’s most advanced thinking on law.

    That’s why our law must superceed God’s law on earth. Our law has nothing to say about the wicked and righteous. Only those that comply with our laws or not.

    You’ll have to keep in touch and let us know about the next life and the priorities there.

  17. Sometimes laws allow, or even encourage, what some view as immoral behavior, and the conflict is not at all unusual. Folks who get bent out of shape about one law allowing or encouraging “immoral” behavior often don’t bother to look at the whole raft of legislation that does exactly that. If they don’t consider that, they end up with the “hypocrite” label. It’s always wise to keep religion out of government and government out of religion or you end up with a lot of confused people.

  18. The Republican Klanate will not give up so do not expect them to. The Republican Candidates for President are in their typical rabid lather about unelected activist Judges ruling in favor of Obama Care and Same Sex Marriage.

    The lawyer–Win Johnson–wrote: Public officials are ministers of God assigned the duty of punishing the wicked and protecting the righteous.

    It is interesting I just watched a TV Program on the Earthquake, tsunami and fire that destroyed the City of Lisbon in 1755. The program mentioned the Portuguese Inquisition. The church officials would hold the trial, but the state was expected to uphold the sentence.

  19. This Alabama fellow is associated with one of the many Foundations or Institutions that are ubiquitous, all suggesting that they are unbiased think-tanks. What if, for just one year, every such Institution in America would hold no seminars or conferences. For one year no one would fly or drive from one part of the country to another to attend a meeting at any of them – left or right. Their Boards would meet electronically and their newsletters could inform their constituents of what is going on. The money saved would go a long way to ending hunger in the USA and in at least one small country in Central America. And maybe some awful ideas would fall by the wayside.

  20. “This is part of the death throes as rule by old white guys approaches its end.”

    What racist hate speech.

    Whites are under attack, and it’s the only approved racism currently allowed, as the enemies of America are trying to destroy the American man and the American ideal.

    Whites are told to “brown up,” “black up,” etc. Never are the other races told to “whiten up.”

    Whites are told to “dumb down.” Never are the other races told to “smarten up.”

    Whites are told to be gayer, to be more welcoming of and curious about homosexuality. Never are the other races told this.

  21. “Gopper. America is a Constitutionally based, democratic, republic…”

    You left off a lot.

    This will point you in the right direction.

    “Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.”

    -John Adams

  22. Gopper; John Adams also said, “A Constitution of Government once changed from Freedom, can never be restored. Liberty, once lost, is lost forever.” 17, July 1775

    “There is danger from all men. The only maxim of a free government ought to be to trust no man living with power to endanger the public liberty.” Spring 1772

    This second quote by John Adams is evidenced today; we have learned via John Boehner, Mitch McConnell, Congress, Tea Party, Koch brothers, NRA, The Donald, et al, just how little power the president has due to the government selling out to the 1%. We are not in danger from President Obama but from the lack of power he has at his disposal. Will Boehner and his owners shut down the government again? Or did Congress learn the cost of allowing this to happen before?

    Moving forward to Debates in the Federal Convention of 1787 on Power of States, James Madison (4th president, 1809-1817): During the debate about the balance of power between states and federal government, James Madison argued for less state power in part on the grounds that states had persecuted religion. He also argued that they couldn’t count on religious values to temper bad behavior as “Religion itself may become a motive to persecution and oppression.”

    Madison’s statement was quite prophetic considering what we are dealing with today with the current “war between the states” based on one set of religious values by some elected officials and SCOTUS.

  23. Gopper, I don’t see or hear anything going on today that will require or even suggest that you or I become gay or black or Muslim or female.

    On the other hand I know that there is a huge compelling pile of evidence that being straight and white and Christian and male results in advantageous treatment.

    Why ignore that evidence and instead go with the anger that the folks in the media want you to feel in order to control your actions?

  24. Gopper: Whites are under attack? Only in your mind and Rush Limbaugh’s monologue. The world is changing and I’ll bet you could find a statement from one of the other founding father’s that would characterize the constitution as a guide, not for moral and religious people, but for the guide to the principles of democracy that it is intended to be.

  25. Gopper – as I said in a post many days ago – you find it very easy to condemn Sheila and others on this blog as long as you don’t identify yourself. Grow a pair and start posting with your real name.

  26. Nancy, if he does that, his name would probably carry so much baggage you would hardly hear the message. Maybe we ought to simply view him as Donald Trump without the hair, and not take him too seriously. After all, without a name, where is the identity and the reason why we should take him seriously?

  27. Those speaking of religion so loosely, rarely understand what it is. To suppose and interpret words of one some two centuries deceased is little more than arrogance coupled with ignorance.

  28. Gopper, quoting one sentence from one person a couple of centuries ago is not a very compelling argument. In a democracy one can expect the full range of opinions on every topic.

    John Adams expressed many opinions but they were all tempered by other’s opinions and what resulted was what a majority agreed on as a workable design for government through the ages.

  29. To correct some misconceptions about Israel:
    They have no oil and never did.
    There are definitely substantial problems with the right-wing versions of Judaism attempting to control and devalue the non-right-wing forms of Judaism, and taking a disproportionate share of public resources to themselves. There is a vigorous and at times acrimonious public debate on these topics, but it is at least a real debate where people are trying to make functional policy instead of just hate, hate, hate.
    The laws which attempt to control and devalue non-right-wing forms of Judaism do *not* attempt to control or devalue non-Jewish religions. Christians, Muslims, Druze, atheists, etc, are valued members of society, serve in the military and in the government.

  30. Israel has a large deposit of oil sitting in Palestine’s national waters, right off Gaza.

    Israel wants that, thus the illegal naval blockades. Israel also has oil deposits under the Dead Sea. What do you think that Dead Sea tar is?

    There’s also plenty of oil in the area identified as “Greater Israel.”

    There’s also a big religious symbol right on their flag, something that America would never be allowed to display on its own flag.

  31. Gopper; being an expert on all matters regarding Israel, please schedule a flight ASAP to Tel Aviv. They obviously need and would benefit by your vast knowledge and governing experience. You could also design an appropriate Israeli flag; one more to your liking. We here in America would benefit greatly by your leaving us to ourselves to muddle through the mire of Republican pseudo Christanity.

  32. No, Public Officials are not “Ministers of God” but…if you saw any of the MSNBC broadcast of Trump’s speech against China, you saw some of that “old time religion” preaching. Reminded me of seeing films of Huey Long’s and Hitler’s speeches; the poll in North Carolina has Trump in the lead of that pack of Republicans. Beyond here there be dragons! Beware America, beware, this fool could fool enough of the Republicans, racists, white supremists, neo-Nazis to take over. A B-grade movie star made it; why not a 1%er, multi-married, multi-bankrupted casino owner with a really bad “do”?

    I was 1 of more than 17,000 people who complained to Indianapolis Motor Speedway and on all social media outlets when he was named as Pace car driver of the 500 Mile Race a few years ago to stop that. We can’t rid the country of him by complaining via the media; so beware.

  33. Since Aimee already corrected this misconception of Israel as a theocracy (the wish of some of my Israeli friends and the fear of some of my other Israeli friends) I am left with one question to ask:
    Isn’t hubris a sin for Christian’s? That judge seems to display a lot of hubris.

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