A church in Alabama issued an apology after a Republican political candidate mocked a woman for being tall and having unnatural hair by calling her a “freak.”
Tim James is running for governor of Alabama, and he is trying to make a name for himself as the meanest candidate in the field. Last month he used pictures of minors from an LGBTQ-inclusive high school in a campaign ad attacking them. He is also bizarrely fixated on the “culture war” battle of yoga in schools.
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He was speaking at the Life Chapel in Rainsville this past Sunday and he talked about visiting Richmond, Virginia – the former capital of the Confederacy – which he said was politically “blue.”
James said that he was surrounded by people who looked like “they were from Mars,” according to CBS 42.
“There were tattoos from the head to the toe,” James said. “Some girl came walking by. I mean she was about six four, plus her heels, and she had a great big old mohawk, nothing down each side but a tattoo. And it was a freak show.”
He then talked about abortion and said, “Not one more abortion will occur in Alabama” once the Supreme Court hands down its decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Center, which is expected to overturn Roe v. Wade and end the federal right to abortion in the U.S. He also said that decision “pulls the rug out” from Obergefell v. Hodges, which legalized marriage equality in all states, and Engel v. Vitale, the 1962 decision that banned schools from writing prayers and making kids recite them.
He called all these rights – the right to an abortion, the right for LGBTQ people to get married, the right for religious minorities to not be forced to practice a religion that’s not theirs – an “usurpation” of authority.
“Who does that?” he asked. “Satan.”
Life Chapel removed a video of James’s speech from its social media and posted a message saying that it heard concerns “from so many.”
“The specific comment that concerned many people were concerning people that looked different, particularly ones with tattoos and certain hairstyles and clothing or lifestyle choices,” the statement said.
“Our heart is that Life Chapel is a place where everyone feels welcomed,” the statement said. “We have many congregants with tattoos, with interesting choices of clothing or things of the like. This statement did not reflect us well. We own up to it. Please forgive us.”
“We don’t have any other way to express our apology because there’s not one good enough,” the church said in a later statement. “We should have looked deeper into the matter and made better judgment.”
James’s campaign said he is not apologizing “for anything Tim said in the pulpit of a church.”
The campaign said that James’s story about seeing the “six four” woman “was an illustration which considered the time and season we are living in.”
“Anyone with a discerning heart should not be offended but encouraged,” the statement said.
Alabama’s primary elections this year will be held on May 24. James will face Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey (R), who just signed the nation’s most sweeping ban on transgender people’s access to gender-affirming care, a law that could result in doctors being thrown in jail if they provide medical care and may force young trans people to de-transition.
When James announced his primary challenge last year, he said that the three most important issues were stopping transgender rights, stopping critical race theory from being taught in schools (it is not), and bringing back the state’s ban on yoga in schools.