Six Alabama UCC Pastors Signatories to Open Letter about Roy Moore

The Rev. Dave Barnhart, pastor of St. Junia United Methodist Church, and the Rev. Jennifer Sanders, pastor of Beloved Community Church, are among the signers of a letter calling Roy Moore unfit for public office.(File/Greg Garrison)

A group of 59 progressive Christian ministers, more than half from mainline Protestant denominations, signed a letter released today calling U.S. Senate candidate Roy Moore “not fit for office.”

The signers included 23 United Methodist ministers, eight Baptists, seven Episcopal clergy and seven Presbyterian pastors.

The letter said of Moore, “his extremist values and actions are not consistent with traditional Christian values or good Christian character. He and politicians like him have cynically used Christianity for their own goals. But Roy Moore does not speak for Christianity, and he acts in ways that are contrary to our faith.”

Moore is a member of Gallant First Baptist Church and has the vocal support of his pastor, the Rev. Tom Brown. Southern Baptist ministers attending the Alabama Baptist Convention this past week were hesitant to criticize him.

But the more liberal members of the clergy who released the letter today, not known for any previous support of Moore, did not hold back in their criticism.

Here’s the full text of the letter:

An Open Letter From Alabama Pastors About Roy Moore

Under ordinary circumstances, we clergy refrain from speaking directly about political candidates, and only speak to issues. But these are not ordinary circumstances.

Even before the recent allegations of sexual abuse, Roy Moore demonstrated that he was not fit for office, and that his extremist values and actions are not consistent with traditional Christian values or good Christian character. He and politicians like him have cynically used Christianity for their own goals. But Roy Moore does not speak for Christianity, and he acts in ways that are contrary to our faith.

Christianity affirms God’s love for the neighbor and care for the most vulnerable in society : the widow, the foreigner, and the orphan. But he has denigrated people from other countries and other faiths. He opposes the expansion of Medicaid which would provide basic healthcare for over 400,000 poor and working poor Alabamians. He seeks to deny the most basic civil rights of our fellow citizens. He has used racial slurs and casually referred to state-sponsored violence against lesbian and gay families. He has sought to deny children without parents access to loving families on the basis of sexual orientation. Kindness and justice toward widows, orphans, and foreigners are priorities in the Bible but they are not priorities for him.

Christianity thrives in religious freedom from government interference, and a government impartial toward people of all faith traditions. But instead he has sought to entangle government with religion. He has preached vehemently against Islamic religious law but he has sought government affirmation of his religious extremism and nationalism. He has claimed civil rights only apply to Christians.

Christianity rejoices in the truth and affirms the rights of abuse survivors to tell their stories without silencing. Christianity abhors sexual coercion and violence. We acknowledge that many people have been victims of sexual assault and abuse in our own places of worship. Clergy misconduct has done real and lasting harm, both physically and spiritually. We repudiate the actions of religious and political leaders like Roy Moore who have sought to silence, to cover up, and to be complicit in the sexual abuse. These actions reopen the wounds of anyone who has been abused by leaders who should have been committed to compassion, to justice, and to healing God’s world.

We clergy write and sign this letter not as representatives of our own congregations but as individual faith leaders compelled by conscience to speak. Our intent is not to tell anyone how to vote, but to urge the people of Alabama to vote their conscience, regardless of political affiliation. It is our belief that in light of Roy Moore’s extremist beliefs, his patterns of behavior, and the recent allegations against him, no person of faith can, in good conscience, support him or his religious nationalism. He has done harm to our government; he has done harm to our Christian witness; and he has done harm to vulnerable people.

We do not make this statement lightly. We do so with much prayer and discernment. We believe no follower of Jesus Christ should be silent while the words of our Lord and Savior are perverted for partisan power, while our Bible is appropriated as a weapon for a false “culture war,” and while the name of our God is blasphemed by the hypocrisy of those who claim the name of Christ

Signed,

  • Dave Barnhart, United Methodist, Birmingham
  • Rev Angie Wright, United Church of Christ, Birmingham
  • Matt Lacey, United Methodist, Birmingham
  • Jennifer Sanders, United Church of Christ, Birmingham
  • Ramone R. Billingsley, Baptist, Birmingham
  • Cat Goodrich, Presbyterian Church (USA), Birmingham
  • Minister Cara McClure, Non Denominational, Birmingham
  • Jaime Pangman, United Methodist, Cullman
  • Eva R. Melton, Baptist, Birmingham
  • The Rev Tyler C Richards, Episcopalian, Birmingham
  • Laura Stephens-Reed, Baptist, Northport
  • Sally G. Harris, Lutheran ( ELCA), Bessemer
  • Wayne McLaughlin, Presbyterian, Homewood
  • Matt Reed, United Methodist, Northport
  • Emily Freeman Penfield, United Methodist, Birmingham
  • The Rev. Kelley Hudlow, Deacon, Episcopal Church, Birmingham
  • Pastor Adam Mixon, Baptist, Birmingham
  • Eric Hall, Baptist, Birmingham
  • Carolyn Foster, Episcopal, Birmingham
  • Raul Dominguez, United Methodist, Cullman
  • R.G. Wilson-Lyons, United Methodist, Birmingham
  • Dr. R. Lawton Higgs Sr., United Methodist, Hueytown
  • E. Tramaine Solomon, Baptist, Lineville
  • Rev Steven W. Barber, United Methodist, Haleyville
  • Paul Eknes-Tucker, United Church of Christ, Birmingham
  • Sonya Gravlee, United Church of Christ, Trussville
  • Daniel Stallings, Baptist, Montevallo
  • Malcolm Marler, Episcopal, Birmingham
  • The Reverend Pamela A. Canzater, United Church of Christ, Birmingham
  • Horace Blount, United Methodist, Birmingham
  • Bishop Antwon B. Womack, Non-Demonational, Birmingham
  • Charles Perry, Unity, Birmingham
  • Dollie Howell Pankey, Christian Methodist Episcopal Church, Birmingham
  • Joe Elmore, United Methodist, Vestavia Hills
  • Rev Bud Precise, United Methodist/United Church of Christ, Birmingham
  • Herb Williamson, United Methodist, Bagley
  • The Rev. Louie Skipper, Episcopal Church, Hoover
  • Everett B. Kelley, Baptist, Lincoln
  • ,Dr. Kevin Higgs, United Methodist, Birmingham
  • Stephanie York Arnold, United Methodist, Birmingham
  • The Rev. Tom Duley, United Methodist, Vestavia Hills
  • John Gregory, Chaplain, Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), Leeds
  • Pastor Marcus Singleton, United Methodist Church, Huntsville
  • Katy Smith, Episcopal Church, Birmingham
  • Tommy Morgan, Christian Church (DOC), Alabaster
  • Joe Genau, Presbyterian Church (USA), Homewood
  • Ava Rozelle, Associate Pastor, United Methodist, Pell City
  • The Reverend Lawrence Willson, PhD, United Methodist, Birmingham
  • Thomas Osborne, Episcopal, Florence
  • Elizabeth Cole Goodrich, Presbyterian, Birmingham
  • The Rev. Mikah Hudson, United Methodist, Birmingham
  • Baxter Chism United Methodist, Pinson
  • Carolyn Garner, Christian, Philadelphia
  • Deborah Gibson, Epley United Methodist, Birmingham
  • Lydia Casey, Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) Birmingham
  • Dale Capron, United Methodist, Gurley
  • J. Shannon Webster, Presbyterian, Birmingham
  • Shelaine Bird, Presbyterian (USA), Mountain Brook
  • Cathy C. Hoop, Presbyterian Church (USA), Tuscaloosa
  • Doreen McGoldrick Duley, United Methodist, Vestavia