More sin in coastal cities?

Published 9:15 pm Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Throughout history, cities that sit on a coast have been perceived as sinful places. Perhaps it is because seafaring people land there and are in search of raucous recreation. Therefore, port cities give rise to transiency and a more whimsical and capricious environment than their inland neighbors.

Even in biblical times the Apostle Paul would decry or pray intensely prior to his journeys to the wicked, sinful and libertine coastal city of Corinth. He found it a difficult place to win souls and even precarious to his survival.

In Southern politics the port cities have been thought of as foreign regions of the state. These cities did indeed lend themselves to a more cosmopolitan setting than their inland brethren. They were considered islands and political hinterlands. In fact, the inlanders or mainstream folks would run against them. They would ridicule them as sinners who drink alcohol, go to country clubs and attend church only on Sunday and even then at an Episcopal church or maybe even worse. Some of them were Catholics and some were even Jewish.

This was indeed the case in the Deep South coastal states of South Carolina, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. The port cities of Charleston, Savannah, New Orleans, Biloxi and Mobile were looked upon and demagogued as different places.

This was true in Alabama politics. Mobile was not only perceived as an island, but if you look at a map of the state it is an island. Most of the people of the state were protestants, primarily Baptist and Methodist.

Historically, Mobile has been more akin to New Orleans. This stems from the fact that French Catholics settled Mobile and New Orleans and, I might add, these two port cities are older than their states. Mobile has mystic societies that are older than many Alabama towns. The fact that Mobile celebrates Mardi Gras also flies in the face of upland Alabama Baptists and Church of Christ parishioners. They do not celebrate Mardi Gras in Boaz. In fact, the good folks who settled in North Alabama did not feel like they had a lot in common with Mobile.

The evangelical vote is powerful in a Republican primary in Alabama. This voting bloc becomes even more pronounced in a special election in a GOP primary where there is a low turnout. In an earlier column I suggested that the evangelical vote would be accentuated in the open seat special election in the 1st District, even though the district encompasses the coastal counties of Mobile and Baldwin.

Folks, Mobile ain’t that much different after all. The turnout of the fundamentalist vote was the story again. Dean Young was the religious right candidate. His longtime ally Chief Justice Roy Moore endorsed him. He has labored in the religious political vineyards for years and it paid off. Bradley Byrne garnered 35 percent of the vote to Dean Young’s 23 percent. They will face each other in a runoff on Nov. 5th. It will be a classic example of the contrast within the Republican Party today.

Byrne is the mainstream, pro-business conservative candidateYoung is the champion of the religious right. Byrne has a formidable record as a lawyer, state senator and two-year college chancellor. Byrne also outspent Young 10 to 1.

Logic says that Byrne will prevail over Young in the Nov. 5th runoff. However, upsets do occur and the religious right has proven that money does not talk nor is it necessary to prevail.We will see.