U.S. Senate candidate John Merrill complains TV shows no longer uplift American values

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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. -- Alabama Secretary of State John Merrill, a Republican candidate for the U.S. Senate in 2020, told a group in Ft. Payne over the weekend that America's moral fiber is decaying and it is time to fight back.

In remarks he repeated to AL.com Monday, Merrill cited current TV shows as failing to uplift America.

“The foundational principles which we have grown up as a nation are no more,” Merrill said while recounting his remarks to AL.com. “There’s no more TV shows like ‘Gunsmoke’ or ‘Bonanza’ or ‘The Virginian’ or ‘I Love Lucy’ or ‘Andy Griffith.' [I] said people are too interested in homosexual activities. They’re too interested in the wife swap TV shows and the shows that are not morally uplifting. That’s the problem.”

Merrill told WHNT News 19 Tuesday that his job as a candidate and elected official is to make it clear where he stands and what he values.

"People want to know, ‘Why do you think America is where it is today?’ And one of the things that’s very clear is that the moral fiber of our nation is decaying, basic foundational principles on which we were based is decaying. And we have to push back and fight back," he said.

Merrill said his run for the U.S. Senate is aimed at wanting to ensure those foundational principles. He cited the U.S. Constitution's preamble as a guide, including, establishing justice, insuring domestic tranquility, providing for the common defense, promoting the general welfare and to secure the blessings of liberty.

He said TV programming can help educate people on those values, or not.

"When you think about those shows, when you think about Gunsmoke, Bonanza, The Virginian, I Love Lucy, Good Times, The Jeffersons, The Andy Griffith Show, all of those shows were basic shows that built on the moral foundation and fiber of our nation," Merrill said. "They helped educate us."

Merrill said the U.S. was founded as a God-fearing nation, but also said "just because a thing was done in a previous time does not mean it was the right thing." He cited the Plessy vs. Ferguson, U.S. Supreme Court decision upholding segregation under a "separate but equal" concept. Merrill said that was finally correctly addressed in the high court's Brown vs. Board of Education decision, which declared "separate but equal" as unconstitutional and cleared the way for public school integration.

WHNT News 19 asked the Republican Merrill, why, if the country is in such a state of decay,  there are so many conservative politicians holding federal office, so many conservative justices on the courts and a Republican majority in Alabama?

Alabama stands out, Merrill said.

"We take care of our people," Merrill said. "That’s what used to happen on those TV shows I’m talking about, it didn’t matter if it was white, black, Hispanic. It did not matter. People came together and worked to solve problems."

On his "homosexual activities" comment, Merrill cited the coverage of the World Cup-winning U.S. Women's National Soccer Team.

"The national media has focused more on the social orientation those young ladies who were competing than they focused on the great accomplishments they produced on the field of play," he said.

Merrill cited his Christian faith as a guide to understanding right from wrong and how to address problems.

He wouldn’t say if he thought same-sex marriage laws in the U.S. should be changed. Merrill noted the courts have made same-sex marriage legal in the U.S. He said there plenty of other issues the U.S. Senate needs to address. He declined to answer a "hypothetical" about whether he'd vote as a Senator to overturn same-sex marriage, but he did say it would not be his first priority.

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