Former Judge-turned-GOP Senate candidate Roy Moore was just accused of sexual assault by seeking out the company of underage girls. The response from members of the Republican party and some evangelical leaders has just been appalling. We heard the phrase “If it is proven…” and “If the accusations turn out to be true…” and more than excuses all day as pundits, legislators, and politicians weighed in on the accusations.
Alabama State Auditor Jim Ziegler was quoted as saying:
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Take Joseph and Mary. Mary was a teenager and Joseph was an adult carpenter. They became parents of Jesus. There’s just nothing immoral or illegal here. Maybe just a little bit unusual.
Yes, he went there — he used a biblical comparison to justify Moore’s abhorrent behavior as “just a little bit unusual.”
Many evangelical leaders reacted differently and chastised Ziegler for using the comparison. Ed Stetzer, pastor, and consultant at Billy Graham Center of Church, Mission, and Evangelism located at Wheaton College, said:
Bringing Joseph and Mary into a modern-day molestation accusation, where a 32-year-old prosecutor is accused of molesting a 14-year-old girl, is simultaneously ridiculous and blasphemous. Even those who followed ancient marriage customs, which we would not follow today, knew the difference between molesting and marriage.
A senior minister at Riverside Church in New York City, Reverend Amy Butler, said:
Women were chattel back then, they were traded — of course they married men who were much older and had multiple wives. It’s completely ludicrous to equate the sex assault of a minor with an ancient culture. It’s ludicrous . . . It makes me want to rip the church back from these people.
Moore is no stranger to controversy. After winning election twice as a judge, he was removed from the bench for refusing to obey laws governing the separation of church and state. “In 2003, he refused to remove a Ten Commandments monument from the state judicial building.” After the right for same-sex couples to marry was granted in 2016, he was suspended for instructing judges to deny marriage licenses to gay couples.
Moore was heavily endorsed by many high profile religious and conservative leaders such as Family Research Council president Tony Perkins, Brian Brown, president of the National Organization for Marriage, and psychologist and radio host James Dobson.
In an email to supporters, Moore attempted to spin the sexual assault accusations as an attack from “the forces of evil are on the march in our country. We are in the midst of a spiritual battle with those who want to silence our message.” He is using the accusations to gin up support for his Senate candidacy and of course, to raise funds to continue his pursuit of a legislative seat:
Their goal is to frustrate and slow down our campaign’s progress to help the Obama-Clinton Machine silence our conservative message. That’s why I must be able to count on the help of God-fearing conservatives like you to stand with me at this critical moment.
Naturally, Moore is denying all the allegations. And those around him are quick to jump on the bandwagon in defense of him. But we are noticing serious trends about the frequency of sexual assault/abuse/harassment allegations and how they are received by the public. Documenting this phenomenon, known as the “Trump Effect,” the Pew Research Center produced the following information as published in the Washington Post:
According to the Pew Research Center, 86 percent of Alabama residents identify as Christian, and 49 percent are evangelical. White evangelicals have become much more likely to say a person who commits an “immoral” act can behave ethically in a public role. In 2011, 30 percent of these evangelicals said this, but that shot up to 72 percent, according to a survey published last year by Public Religion Research Institute.
While the Republican party reels in response to these allegations, Roy Moore is continuing his campaign as if today was no different than any other day. After all, Donald Trump was outed as a sexual deviant and he was still elected to the presidency. Sexual assault is no longer a deal breaker for serving in an elected office.
Featured image from YouTube video