Roy Moore, a GOP candidate in an upcoming Alabama Senate election, told a Christian conservative group that the U.S. epidemic of gun violence was God's punishment for secularism in American society.
On Aug. 24, Moore spoke before the Christian group Citizen Impact USA during a private campaign event. During his speech, the former chief justice of the Alabama Supreme Court asserted that the U.S. was becoming too secular, CNN reports.
"We are losing the acknowledgement of God, and I'm standing here talking, to Christians and pastors, and I'm telling you we're losing the acknowledgment of God," Moore told the audience.
"You wonder why we're having shootings, and killings here in 2017?" Moore continued. "Because we've asked for it. We've taken God out of everything. We've taken prayer out of school, we've taken prayer out of council meetings."
Footage of the speech was uploaded by the production company Studio 25 on Aug. 25, but the video remained obscure until catching the media's attention on Sept. 19.
As of Aug. 29, there had been a recorded 244 mass shootings in the U.S. since Jan. 1, 2017. By that date, there had been more U.S. mass shootings in 2017 than there had been days. During the same timeframe in 2016, there were a recorded 234 mass shootings in the nation, according to Newsweek.
Moore has previously suggested that tragedies in the U.S. were intentionally inflicted by a Christian God as punishment for secularism. In February 2017, Moore quoted the Bible in suggesting during a speech before the Open Door Baptist Church that the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks were a divine punishment.
"'Because you have despised His word and trust in perverseness and oppression, and say thereon ... therefore this iniquity will be to you as a breach ready to fall, swell out in a high wall, whose breaking cometh suddenly at an instance.' Sounds little bit like the Pentagon, whose breaking came suddenly at an instance, doesn't it?" Moore said.
The former chief justice added: "You know, we've suffered a lot in this country, maybe, just maybe, because we've distanced ourselves from the one that has it within his hands to heal this land."
Moore is contending for a U.S. Senate seat in an upcoming Alabama runoff primary race. On Sept. 26, Alabama voters will decide between Moore and incumbent GOP Sen. Luther Strange for their Republican candidate. During the initial primary election, Moore won 39 percent support while Strange claimed 33 percent of the vote.
On Sept. 18, a survey conducted by JMC Analytics found that 47 percent of likely voters in Alabama supported Moore, 39 percent favored Strange, and 13 percent were undecided, WHNT reports.