MONTGOMERY, Ala. – Chief Justice Roy Moore of the Alabama Supreme Court made headlines this weekend when a video surfaced in which he argues that First Amendment rights apply only to Christians, since it was the “God of the Holy Scriptures” who “created us.” Moore singled out Buddhists as a group undeserving of full religious protection and today clarified that he “fully supports” stripping First Amendment rights from Larry Watson, Alabama’s only Buddhist resident.
“Everyone knows that America—and especially Alabama—were founded with the Christian God in mind,” Moore said from his Montgomery office this morning. “Larry, with his ‘all things are connected’ and ‘reality is an illusion’ gobbledygook, is threatening the foundation of this state and country. So yes, I think it’s perfectly constitutional for us to put a muzzle on his big mouth.”
Moore’s comments followed those he made on January 17 at the Pastors for Life Luncheon in Mississippi. In his speech at that event, Moore argued that the “religion” mentioned in the First Amendment refers to “the duty we owe to the Creator and the manner of discharging it,” and since “Buddha didn’t create us,” Buddhist practice, along with Islam, is not protected by the Constitution.
“I think my comments were pretty straightforward, and I stand by them,” Moore said today. “Plus, Larry is just annoying, and everyone wants him to shut up.”
Watson, who says he found Buddhism after watching a PBS special on “Religions of the East,” called Justice Moore’s position on the First Amendment “offensive.”
“He’s obviously a bigoted, pompous know-it-all,” Watson said of Moore, who also earned headlines back in 2003 when he successfully fought to keep a monument of the Ten Commandments displayed at the Alabama Judicial Building. “But in the end, he and I are simply two manifestations of the same consciousness in this vast illusory world, so he can say what he likes.”
The controversy has upset many Alabamans, many of whom did not know that there was a Buddhist living amongst them.
“Larry has always been kind of a weird guy,” said Tina Kopp, Watson’s neighbor. “But we just assumed he was on meth like everyone else. The fact that he doesn’t follow Christ disturbs me deeply.”