Reading Time: 3 minutes

Maryland’s next attorney general could be an anti-abortion, pro-secession Creationist who once donated a million-dollar dinosaur skeleton to the Creation Museum. Michael Anthony Peroutka won his Republican primary last night with 58% of the votes, putting him a step closer to winning the general election. At a time when promoting extremism appears to be the best path forward within the GOP, Peroutka has a lengthy résumé.

Let’s start with the Creationism. In 2014, Answers in Genesis first announced a brand new dinosaur exhibit. As they explained in a press release, the skeleton of an allosaur—with “one of the best-preserved Allosaurus fragilis skulls ever discovered”—had been donated to the Creation Museum by Peroutka.

Somehow, being a Creationist may be one of the least concerning things about Michael Peroutka. This was the same guy, after all, who had said earlier that year that accepting evolution made you a traitor:

YouTube video

The promotion of evolution is an act of disloyalty to America, that’s what I’m saying… You either believe in Creation, by which you have rights that government is designed to protect, or you believe that all men are slime and that you have no rights at all.

It got worse from there because Peroutka soon became an Anne Arundel County Councilman. That was especially concerning for those who knew of his past affiliation with the League of the South, a secessionist group whose founder is racist. Peroutka dismissed those accusations of racism and said the “real racism” was… abortion.

In 2014, Peroutka also claimed the Maryland General Assembly’s support for marriage equality made the entire legislature illegitimate because they were passing bills that “violate God’s law.”

YouTube video

Right Wing Watch also notes that Peroutka doesn’t just embrace Christian nationalism; he actively works to achieve it:

Peroutka founded the Institute on the Constitution, Christian Reconstructionist organization that favors religious tests for public office and teaches that the government’s role is to enforce God’s law, and that the government has no legitimate authority to “house, feed, clothe, educate, or give health care to…ANYBODY!”

He was also close with alleged pedophile Roy Moore, another conservative Christian known for acting like the rules never apply to him.

When he lost his re-election bid for councilman in 2018, there was hope he would just fade away.

Instead, he ran for attorney general.

He’s only dug deeper into the conspiracy rabbit hole since then. This past April, he and GOP gubernatorial candidate Dan Cox attended a QAnon gathering called “Patriots Arise.”

There’s hope that, given his extremist past in a state where MAGA cultism doesn’t necessarily win over the bulk of the electorate, his candidacy is a tough sell to voters. Democrats have literally been promoting right-wing candidates across the country whom they believe will make for easier competition in November. Even the Democrat who lost to Peroutka in 2014 said Peroutka’s entry into the race was good news for his party:

Patrick Armstrong, the Democrat who was defeated by Peroutka in the 2014 election, said he expects voters will have the sense not to vote for a man with such a problematic history.

“Peroutka was defeated by sensible Republicans in 2018 and I have no doubt that when facing the Maryland electorate statewide, voters will have no interest in a Peroutka-Roy Moore-Donald Trump candidate for attorney general,” Armstrong said.

The problem with that logic is that Trump was elected in 2016, plenty of conspiracy theorists have been elected to statewide office, and if the Democrats running against these buffoons falter in any meaningful way, a Creationist like Michael Peroutka will have the kind of power that ought to be unattainable for people with their views.

The last thing any state needs is an attorney general who readily accepts faith-based lies, promotes literal secession, and is buddy-buddy with a judge whose entire persona before his supposed sex crimes came to light was using his seat on the Alabama Supreme Court to promote conservative Christianity (even installing a Ten Commandments monument in the middle of the night).

Peroutka should be considered too extreme for politics. But today’s Republican Party isn’t interested in electing people who know how to do their jobs; they prefer people who wrap themselves in American flags, Christianity flags, and red flags.

When the fact that a major party candidate for statewide office is a Creationist appears to be the least of anyone’s worries, you know things are bad. If Maryland voters don’t take this race seriously, they may be shocked to see what Peroutka does to their state’s reputation, much less their laws.

(Large portions of this article were published earlier)

Hemant Mehta is the founder of FriendlyAtheist.com, a YouTube creator, podcast co-host, and author of multiple books about atheism. He can be reached at @HemantMehta.