Bradley Byrne Uses Religion to Pander for Votes, Defend Trump

Clete Wetli | December 27, 2019 | Opinion Article

In a sickening display of what’s wrong with the far-right wing of the Republican Party, AL Rep. and Senate long-shot Bradley Byrne penned a religious piece in Yellowhammer News in which he disjointedly brings up Trump’s impeachment saying, “This has been a hard year and we ended it in Washington on the sad and avoidable note of the impeachment of a sitting president. I’ve repeatedly made my position on that issue clear, but the fact of the vote and the way in which it was handled was a big disappointment. The nation is worse off and for nothing at all.”

He then goes on to say, “That’s not me being trite. I really do believe it, because we are what Jesus meant when He talked about the city set on the hill, the lamp that belongs on a stand. And we will continue so long as we reflect the Light of the world in the darkness around us.”

Wow, pander much?

Of course, it surely has been a tough year for folks like Byrne. It must have been hard twisting himself into a rhetorical pretzel defending Trump’s pornstar payoff or explaining Trump being barred from ever operating a charity in New York, or, most importantly, choosing to sit in the dark when the painfully bright light of high crimes and misdemeanors lit up Washington like the Griswald’s Christmas tree.

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Well, Byrne learned early in his political career that religion was a cheap, but powerful political weapon. When serving on the Alabama State Board of Education in 1995, Byrne waffled on science and the theory of evolution and supported “both sides of the fence” language describing the science curriculum. He voted in support of a pathetic compromise that stated, “Explanations of the origin of life and major groups of plants and animals, including humans, shall be treated as theory and not as fact. When attempting to apply scientific knowledge to world problems, no social agenda shall be promoted.”

Predictably, the right-wing extremists in his base threw a hissy fit because they really wanted Christian Creationism to be the only thing taught in Alabama when it came to the origin of mankind. It seems Byrne really stepped in primordial goo, that time.

So, it didn’t take too long for Byrne to decide that pandering to religious zealotry was a winning ticket with his base and he hasn’t looked back since. In 2010, when he lost his race for governor, he simply pretended to have never said what he clearly said, claiming, “As a Christian and as a public servant, I have never wavered in my belief that this world and everything in it is a masterpiece created by the hands of God … As a member of the Alabama Board of Education, the record clearly shows that I fought to ensure the teaching of creationism in our school textbooks. Those who attack me have distorted, twisted and misrepresented my comments and are spewing utter lies to the people of this state.” For extra emphasis, he went on to say that he believed every word in the Bible was true.

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In 2017, Byrne must have felt that way when he believed every word that came from Roy Moore when he endorsed him.

Interestingly, he now seems to think that every single word from Trump is true as well. Byrne thinks Trump’s misguided plan to leave our allies, the Kurds, to die in Syria is somehow honorable. Byrne also thinks that supporting bills to end discrimination like the Equality Act is “radical” and “deeply disturbing”. Byrne also believes that its a-ok for the Executive Branch to simply defy legitimate Congressional oversight. 

Byrne is welcome to believe whatever he likes, but the problem is that he publicly and repeatedly mischaracterizes reality and has appeared to have no issue spewing falsehoods when they serve his extreme, and often cruel, political agenda.

To be fair, other AL Republicans from Gov. Kay Ivey to Rep. Robert Aderholdt all felt that they had to show that they were brave, battle-hardened soldiers in the imaginary War on Christmas. Unlike Byrne, they simply talked about their Christian faith and ignored other faiths (and those who choose no religion) without blatantly injecting partisan politics into it. They were “light” pandering, while Byrne went full-on Pander-Palooza!

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The point is that if politicians want to wish people Merry Christmas, Happy Hannukah, or something else, that’s fine, but leave impeachment and politics out of it. It’s bad enough we have to endure their pandering, disingenuous hypocrisy throughout the year. 

It’s time for Byrne to stop pandering and to explain what he and other Republicans who voted for Trump’s tax scheme are going to do about the historic $21 Trillion debt they helped create.

If Byrne is so concerned about the darkness of the world, he and the rest of the GOP need to spend a little more time figuring out why the wealthiest aren’t paying their share of the light bill. 

First, they may want to re-read that verse in Matthew 6:1, “Beware of practicing your righteousness before other people in order to be seen by them, for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven.”

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Clete Wetli is former Chair of the Madison County Democrats and a liberal political activist.

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