December 14, 2017

No Moore, But More Damage

The evangelical Christian witness took a hit Tuesday night. Sure, Roy Moore lost the U.S. Senate race in Alabama, but white evangelicals still looked bad.

Moore shouldn't be in the U.S. Senate. Even before the multiple credible accusations of sexual assault and harassment emerged, his racism, religious bigotry, and refusal to follow the law made him unfit for office. Yet, despite all of that, eight in ten white evangelicals still voted for Moore.


Eight in ten. The exact same percentage of white evangelicals that Donald Trump captured nationally last year despite multiple credible accusations of sexual assault and harassment. Eight in ten.

What in God's name have we become?

The Moore case, for the record, wasn't a "he said/she said" case (or, more accurately, a "he said/she, she, she, she, she, she, she, she, and she said" case). Moore kept changing his story and then just refused to answer questions (or even debate his opponent). Many of his supporters said they believed him, but he didn't even make a case that could be believed.

It wasn't just the vote amount that makes white evangelicals look like they don't care about women who have been sexually assaulted and harassed. Many supporters of Moore made horrible claims to defend Moore - with some even defending the alleged behavior as if it were true. Here are just a few of the despicable moments:

* A retired Baptist pastor said he would support Moore even if the charges were true and defended Moore by saying "there are some 14-year-olds, who, the way they look, could pass for 20."

* Alabama State Auditor Jim Ziegler defended Moore by claiming (with inaccurate biblical claims), "Take the Bible. Zachariah and Elizabeth for instance. Zachariah was extremely old to marry Elizabeth and they became the parents of John the Baptist. ... Also take Joseph and Mary. Mary was a teenager and Joseph was an adult carpenter. They became parents of Jesus."

* A Methodist pastor argued Moore dated "younger ladies" because other women "were already married." The pastor added, "there is something about a purity of a young woman, there is something that is good, that's true, that's straight and he looked for that."

* Moore's brother claimed Roy was being "persecuted like Jesus Christ was."

* Moore held a campaign rally at a Baptist church where the music minister who led music before Moore's remarks had previously been convicted of obstruction and conspiracy for trying to cover up evidence that one of his sons had molested children at an orphanage in Honduras.

If white evangelical leaders wonder why younger people are abandoning the term "evangelical" (as I have) or even dropping out of churches altogether, then look at those comments and the exit polls showing eight of ten white evangelicals backed Trump and Moore. And look at the court preachers who backed Trump through it all - like James Dobson, Jerry Falwell Jr, Franklin Graham, and Tony Perkins - and who also backed Moore through it all. That's what my generation is rejecting. 

And what happened Tuesday was a big rejection. A Republican lost in Alabama! That's basically the political equivalent of having a large millstone hung around your neck and being drowned in the depths of the sea.

But there are signs of hope. There are still "values voters." They just aren't the white evangelicals who have often claimed that title. Black evangelicals - who are often ignored in media coverage - overwhelmingly rejected Moore. We need more of that faith.

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