Alabama senate candidate repeatedly appeared on radio with pastor who preaches penalty for homosexuality is death

Story highlights

  • Roy Moore has appeared multiple times on a radio show hosted by a controversial pastor who preaches that the biblical punishment for homosexuality is death.
  • Moore spokesperson told CNN: "Appearing in any interview is never an endorsement of the interviewer. Responding to CNN is a great example."

(CNN)Roy Moore, a Republican candidate for US Senate in Alabama, has appeared multiple times on a radio show hosted by a controversial pastor who preaches that the biblical punishment for homosexuality is death.

Moore, the former chief justice of the Alabama Supreme Court, is in a runoff primary race against fellow Republican and incumbent Sen. Luther Strange. Moore is a hardline conservative, who made his name in Alabama by championing social and cultural issues popular with the religious right.
    Moore has appeared on pastor Kevin Swanson's Generation Radio at least five times and as recently as this February, a CNN KFile review finds. Swanson is a Colorado-based pastor who on several occasions has preached that the biblical punishment for homosexuality is death. Most recently, Swanson tied Hurricane Harvey in Houston to the city having "a very, very aggressively pro-homosexual mayor."
    Association with Swanson has in the past caused controversy, even for politicians who are religious conservatives. Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, at the time a candidate for the Republican presidential nomination, appeared at the Freedom 2015 National Religious Liberties Conference and was introduced by Swanson. At that event, Swanson said in a speech that, "In fact in Romans 1 Paul affirms that this particular sin (homosexuality) is worthy of death. The Old and New Testament, I believe both speak with authority and we outta receive it."
    Cruz's spokesperson told USA Today after the event that "it was a mistake for Senator Cruz to appear at the event" given Swanson's "offensive comments."
    Swanson brought Moore on his radio program to discuss matters relating to the role Christianity plays — or should play, in their opinion in American society. In his appearances, Swanson and Moore lamented the lack of prayer in public schools, discussed their concern that "In God we Trust" would be removed from American currency, and talked about a friend of the court brief Moore filed in support of a court's right to cite the Bible in criminal cases.
    In one appearance Moore and Swanson criticized state legislation that would ban discrimination against gays, with Moore saying it was an example of the government trying to tell citizens what they were allowed to think and believe.
    In response to a request for comment on Moore's appearances with Swanson, Moore spokesperson Brett Doster told CNN: "Appearing in any interview is never an endorsement of the interviewer. Responding to CNN is a great example."
    Moore himself has been outspoken against LGBT rights, calling homosexuality an "inherent evil," as well as "abhorrent, immoral, detestable, a crime against nature and a violation of the laws of nature and of nature's God" in a 2002 opinion he issued as chief justice. Moore was suspended as chief justice in 2016 for instructing Alabama's probate judges to defy a federal court order to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples.
    In a 2015 video posted on YouTube by user Lone Star Q, Moore was asked directly if he believed the homosexuality should be punished by death.
    "Some people that interpret the Bible strictly say that (homosexuality) should be punished with death," the interviewer, who is off camera, said to Moore, "Do you agree with that?"
    "Well I don't, you know, I'm not here to outline any punishments for sodomy. That's far beyond any issues I've come in contact with," Moore responded. "I can't help what some people say, what some people do."
    "But you don't have any opinion about what the punishment should be?" the interviewer asked, to which Moore responded, "No."
    Doster, a spokesperson for the Moore campaign, told CNN about the exchange: "The Judge believes a judge's role is to administer the law in accordance with the Alabama code. Period."