Roy Moore is involved in a deeply controversial Senate race in Alabama. Moore, a favorite of evangelicals for fighting their culture wars, was hit with allegations of child molestation by the Washington Post. As the scandal grew many evangelicals dug in and reaffirmed their blind support of Roy Moore. Meanwhile Russell Moore from the Southern Baptist’s ERLC got involved in tearing apart Roy Moore’s evangelical defenders. Today’s post at The Wondering Eagle deals with the controversial Senate race in Alabama, evangelical Christianity’s culture wars, the issue of child molestation, and national politics all clashing together.
“Evangelicals have no integrity. They pretend to have superior morals, but then vote for sexual predators like Trump and Moore. How can anyone respect their religious beliefs when they toss them aside for political gain?”
For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? -Mark 8:36
Online comment in the Washington Post regarding the evangelical support for Roy Moore
“Well, Doctor, what have we got—a Republic or a Monarchy?”
“A Republic, if you can keep it.”
Dr. James McHenry asks a question to Benjamin Franklin in Philadelphia and gets a response.
For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?
Mark 8:36 KJV should be remembered by evangelicals who are pursuing their goals by politics.
*** This is the first of two posts, I will likely get the other post up tomorrow***
The United States Capitol at night.
There is a lot of ground to cover. I am writing about this issue due to the way this has exploded and the way evangelical Christians have been prominently featured. The situation with Roy Moore illustrates why parts of evangelicalism are morally bankrupt, lost, and dangerous. There is a lot to look at but let’s start with discussing who Roy Moore is.
Who is Roy Moore?
Roy Moore was born in Gadsden, Alabama. He went to the United States Military Academy at West Point where he picked up a Bachelor of Science degree in 1969. Moore served in Vietnam and was discharged at the rank of Captain in 1974. He enrolled in the University of Alabama Law School and graduated with a J.D. and started to practice law in Gadsden. His legal focus was on personal injury and insurance. Moore began to work for the district attorneys office as a prosecutor for Etowah County. Moore eventually quit to run for the circuit county judge seat in 1982 and lost. He made a couple of additional efforts at running for local public office and didn’t win. He returned to Gadsden and married his wife in 1985. In 1992 Etowah County Circuit Judge died in office and Moore was eventually appointed to fill out the position. Moore believed that God wanted him to take over that role. When he was up for re-election as the incumbent he won. Moore won as a Republican and was the first county wide Republican to win sin the county since the days of Reconstruction following the Civil War.
When Moore began his tenure as a circuit judge he installed a wooden plaque of the Ten Commandments on the wall behind him. He also opened court sessions with prayer. Eventually the ACLU learned of this and sent a representative to record the prayers. In time Moore claimed that he was being persecuted, and he used the situation to win re-election in a landslide win. In 1995 the ACLU filed a lawsuit against Roy Moore stating that court prayer and posting the Ten Commandments are unconstitutional. Alabama Governor Fob James ordered the state attorney general to support Moore. Eventually it was decided by the Alabama State Circuit Judge that the prayers had to stop but that the Ten Commandments could remain. Moore vowed to appeal. In 1999 the American Family Association worked at drafting Roy Moore for the Alabama Supreme Court race. Moore declared he is a candidate on December 7, 1999 and later on won the race. Moore’s opponent elicited the help of Karl Rove who advised George W Bush in Texas. Moore then had another monument out of granite constructed. It showed the Ten Commandments and had quotes from the Declaration of Independence and various founding fathers. It was installed in the rotunda of the Alabama Supreme Court building on July 31, 2001. Coral Ridge Ministries of Dr. James Kennedy filmed the installation and sold the tapes for profit. The money raised would be used for the coming legal battles. When it was unveiled Moore said the following, “Today a cry has gone out across our land for the acknowledgment of that God upon whom this nation and our laws were founded… May this day mark the restoration of the moral foundation of law to our people and the return to the knowledge of God in our land.” At this point Moore was becoming a favorite of many evangelical Christians. On October 30, 3001 the ACLU of Alabama, Americans United for Separation of Church and State and the Southern Poverty Law Center filed a lawsuit in United States District Court for the Middle District of Alabama. The trial Glassroth vs. Moore began on October 15, 2002. Moore argued that he would not remove the Ten Commandment monument because it violated his oath of office. Moore argued that the Ten Commandments are the moral foundation of the United States. He claimed, “[The monument] serves to remind the Appellate Courts and judges of the Circuit and District Court of this State and members of the bar who appear before them, as well as the people of Alabama who visit the Alabama Judicial Building, of the truth stated in the Preamble to the Alabama Constitution that in order to establish justice we must invoke ‘the favor and guidance of almighty God’ On November 18, 2002 the federal district judge ruled against Moore. He was found to have violated the establishment clause of the United States Constitution. He had created a religious atmosphere which also made for a hostile work environment leaving some employees uncomfortable. The judge mandated that the monument be removed by January 3, 2003. Moore turned around and appealed to the United States Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta, Georgia. His appeal was argued and on July 1, 2003 the court upheld the federal district judge’s decision ordering the monument removed. Judge Thompson who originally ruled against Moore told him that the Ten Commandment monument was to be out of the building by August 20, 2003. On August 16, 2003 Moore held a rally at the Alabama Supreme Court building. About 4,000 people came to listen to Moore as well as the late Jerry Falwell, and Alan Keyes speak. Moore vowed to defy the judge and that the monument would not be removed. Each day the deadline passed Alabama was fined $5,000 a day. On August 23, Alabama Judicial Inquiry Commission filed a complaint with the Alabama Court of the Judiciary over Moore’s legal conduct. Moore used his time before the committee to rant about the importance of God in the United States. On November 13, 2003 the Alabama Judicial Inquiry Commission in a unanimous decision found him in violation of the Alabama Cannon of Judicial Ethics. He was ordered to be removed by the Supreme Court. Moore appealed his removal to the Alabama Supreme Court who also ruled against him. With that Moore was removed from office.
In March of 2012 Moore ran again for the Alabama Supreme Court position and won in the primary and the general election in November. When Moore went into office the issue of gay marriage was becoming heated. Moore issued a probate to judges and their employees across the state of Alabama ordering them to uphold gay marriage restrictions and to ignore a federal court decision about gay marriage. Before this happened the Southern Poverty Law Center filed a judicial ethics complaint saying that he was speaking publicly about gay marriage before and could not be impartial. On February 9, the United States Supreme Court upheld the federal court decision. With Moore’s order that judges and employees were not to follow the court’s decision probate judges in Birmingham, Montgomery, and Huntsville rejected Moore’s decision and proceeded to follow the federal court decision. The Alabama Judicial Inquiry Commission again forwarded six complaints dealing with Moore to the Alabama Court of the Judiciary. Those six complaints are the following:
- Disregarding a federal injunction.
- Demonstrated unwillingness to follow clear law.
- Abuse of administrative authority.
- Substituting his judgment for the judgement of the entire Alabama Supreme Court, including failure to abstain from public comment about a pending proceeding in his own court.
- Interference with legal process and remedies in the United States District Court and/or Alabama Supreme Court related to proceedings in which Alabama probate judges were involved.
- Failure to recuse himself from pending proceedings in the Alabama Supreme Court after making public comment and placing his impartiality into question.
Moore turned around and filed a lawsuit against the Judicial Inquiry Commission arguing that his automatic suspension was unconstitutional. Moore was represented by his attorneys in Liberty Counsel. I recently wrote about Liberty Counsel in “When Evangelical Christians Export their Culture Wars Abroad: Kim Davis and Liberty Counsel Fighting Gay Marriage in Romania.” In September of 2016 Roy Moore as Alabama Supreme Court justice was suspended for ordering probate judges to defy the federal orders regarding gay marriage. He was suspended for the remainder of the term. Moore filed an appeal and continued to be represented by Liberty Counsel. On April 20, 2017 the Alabama Supreme Court upheld Moore’s suspension. On April 26, 2017 Moore resigned from the Alabama Supreme Court and declared that he would run against Luther Strange for the United States Senate.
Evangelicals and their Culture Wars
The term culture war was popularized by James Davison Hunter who is the LaBrosse-Levinson Distinguished Professor of Religion, Culture, and Social Theory at the University of Virginia. He broke new ground in 1991 with his book “Culture Wars: The Struggle to Define America.” For evangelical Christians they erroneously claim that their culture wars started with the legalization of abortion om 1973. That is not true as it was the threat of Bob Jones University in South Carolina losing funding due to its policy of segregation that triggered the culture wars. To read more you can do so in “Recommended Read: Politico on Evangelical Culture Wars; It Wasn’t the Legalization of Abortion that Triggered them it was the Threat of Bob Jones University Losing its Funding due to its Segregation Practices.” I would say that the main thrust of the evangelical culture wars has been in fighting for “school prayer”, making abortion illegal, prevent the acceptance of gay people in the United States, push a creationist agenda and accept a literal view of creation. If I missed any please let me know. The purpose for the evangelical culture wars deal with the ability to rally around a cause and demonize a foe. In creating an enemy you create a justification for your existence. The culture wars also have made money for the fringe of evangelicalism in my opinion. People have profited off conflict as well. I personally see the culture wars as being useless and that they show many evangelical Christians immaturity. When I see how some Christians respond to an abortion clinic or a bookstore selling pornography I often wonder, how would these individuals exist in the days of Rome? Did the Christians in Rome wage culture wars? The tragedy of the culture wars is that they are a losing proposition. Christians won’t win them, and the last time they won one (Prohibition in the early 20th century) it backfired spectacularly. The damage of the culture wars is that they alienate many parts of the population and drive people away from the church. They are subjective and flawed in their approach. I think we are seeing the final gasp of the culture wars from evangelicals in their embrace of Donald Trump. Though its hard to talk about morality when you embrace someone who boasted of grabbing someone’s pussy and posed with the cover of Playboy behind them. Yes Ronald Reagan was divorced, but Reagan was a different individual and in embracing Trump, many evangelicals have thrown Ronald Reagan under the bus. I find all this profoundly sad. The culture wars are unique to Roy Moore in how they have played out and what is going on in the United States Senate race. Roy Moore has said a lot of things over the top. He claims that September 11, happened because the united States distanced ourselves from God. He also said that sharia law is being practiced in the United States and still believes that former President Obama is from Kenya. Here is a list of the most outrageous things Roy Moore has said. Despite some dark and disturbing allegations many evangelicals have embraced Roy Moore and are rallying around him. Let’s stop and look at the situation.
The Washington Post Allegations
Roy Moore had committed a major upset in defeating Luther Strange in the Alabama Republican primary. On November 9, 2017 reporters Beth Reinhard, Stephanie McCrummen, and Alice Crites broke a very disturbing story for the Washington Post. The newspaper reported that Roy Moore allegedly initiated a sexual encounter with a girl who was 14. Leigh Corfman was allegedly approached by Roy Moore as she sat on a wooden bench outside the Etowah County court room. This behavior allegedly occurred in 1979. Roy Moore allegedly touched the young girl inappropriately over her bra and underpants and encouraged Leigh to touch the judge’s erect penis. In the case of the other individuals they were asked out on dates when Moore was in his 30’s and they in the ages of 16 to 18. Moore allegedly approached them at the Gadsden Mall. To read The Washington Post story in its entirety you can do so in “Woman says Roy Moore initiated sexual encounter when she was 14, he was 32.” Politico in writing about how the Washington Post broke the story had this to say from a prominent Columbia School of Journalism professor.
Bill Grueskin, a Columbia School of Journalism professor who previously served as one of The Wall Street Journal’s top editors, said he couldn’t recall a story that had so carefully explained how it came to be and bullet-proofed itself. It’s like the reporters had “this checklist of how people tried to disparage or diminish a story about a politician,” Grueskin said, and “checked off each one to make sure it wouldn’t apply in this case.”
“It’s a brilliant move, and it’s something I would want to teach here at Columbia Journalism School,” Grueskin said. “The Republican political establishment that you would expect to come to Moore’s defense has been basically left open-mouthed. They don’t have the kind of tools in their toolbox they would normally use to diminish a story like this.”
In time it was also learned that Roy Moore was allegedly banned from the Gadsden’s mall.
Evangelical Christians in Alabama Embracing Roy Moore in Spite of Alleged Child Molestation, Plus Additional Allegations of a Sexual Assault
As the Washington Post allegations turned the Alabama Senate race upside down the stunning behavior by many evangelical Christians in Alabama began to be noticed by the press. The Hill reported that 40% of evangelicals in Alabama were more inclined to vote for Roy Moore after hearing that he allegedly molested a 14 year old. Evangelicals began to rally around Roy Moore. You can read more in “Poll: 37 percent of Alabama evangelicals more likely to vote for Moore after allegations.” As a couple of more women came forward many evangelical Christians in Alabama circled the wagons around Roy Moore. The fifth accuser, Beverly Young Nelson, described what was almost like an alleged rape whereas the following day her neck was black and blue. Beverly produced a high school year book that had Roy Moore’s signature. You can read about this in the New York Times article called, “Roy Moore Is Accused of Sexual Misconduct by a Fifth Woman.” Many evangelical pastors spoke out about the allegations and questioning their timing. Why after all these years are they coming out now? Why not the local press? Why is this coming from the national press? In addition many evangelicals started to attack the sexual assault victims and going after them. You can read more about that in Huffington Post’s “Roy Moore’s Base Is Sticking With Him, Attacking Those Who Attack Him.” Plus many pastors in Alabama signed a letter that declared their support for Roy Moore. It was shared by Roy Moore’s wife on her personal Facebook page. 50 pastors had their names attached and then four asked to be removed from the list. “Kayla Moore posts support from 50 pastors; 4 ask for their names to be removed.” The pastors appear to be a mix of Independent Fundamentalist Baptist (James Lester of Fannin Road Baptist Church in Montgomery; Thad Endicott of Heritage Baptist Church in Opelika; and Mike Allison of Madison Baptist Church in Madison)Congregational Methodist (Bruce Jenkins of Young’s Chapel in Piedmont) Restored Church of God (Rick and Beverly Simpson of Summit Holiness Church in Millbrook) Free Presbyterian Church of America (Myron Mooney of Trinity Presbyterian Church in Trinity) Southern Baptist (John McCrummen of Open Door Baptist of Enterprise) Assembly of God (Lane and Margie Simmons of First Assembly of God in Greenville) and Non-denominational (Jim Nelson of Church of the Living God in Moulton)
Here is how the letter opens up. I would encourage you to read the full list of supporters on the website.
Dear friends and fellow Alabamians,
For decades, Roy Moore has been an immovable rock in the culture wars – a bold defender of the “little guy,” a just judge to those who came before his court, a warrior for the unborn child, defender of the sanctity of marriage, and a champion for religious liberty. Judge Moore has stood in the gap for us, taken the brunt of the attack, and has done so with a rare, unconquerable resolve.
As a consequence of his unwavering faith in God and his immovable convictions for Biblical principles, he was ousted as Chief Justice in 2003. As a result, he continued his life pursuit by starting the Foundation for Moral Law, which litigates religious liberty cases around our Nation. After being re-elected again to Chief Justice in 2012, by an overwhelming majority, he took another round of persecution for our faith as he stood up for the sanctity of marriage between one man and one woman.
You can know a man by his enemies, and he’s made plenty – from the radical organizations such as the Southern Poverty Law Center and the ACLU to the liberal media and a handful of establishment politicians from Washington. He has friends too, a lot of them. They live all across this great State, work hard all week, and fill our pews on Sunday. They know him as a father, a grandfather, a man who loves God’s Word and knows much of it by heart, a man who cares for the people, a man who understands our Constitution in the tradition of our Founding Fathers, and a man who deeply loves America. It’s no wonder the Washington establishment has declared all-out war on his campaign.
A Dark Race in United States History
The Senate race in Alabama was already dark before the molestation allegations and other abuse hit the campaign. Steve Bannon the controversial Breitbart editor who advised Donald Trump has advised Roy Moore. When Roy Moore beat Luther Strange in the Alabama Republican primary Britbart was glowing in the defeat. After the allegations came out against Roy Moore Steve Bannon vowed to defend Moore and sent Britbart operatives out to discredit the accusers. You can read more about that in Politico’s “Roy Moore Is Pure Steve Bannon.” What makes this Senate race so dark is the threats of actions that are discussed if Roy Moore wins. There is talk that if Moore wins that the United States Senate would expel him. Senator Cory Gardner of Colorado first raised this on November 13, 2017. If this occurs this will be the first time such action will have been taken since the American Civil War. After the Civil War began in April of 1861 the Democratic Senators from Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Arkansas, Texas, Missouri John C Breckenridge of Kentucky and James Blight of Indiana were expelled for supporting the Confederacy. In Washington, D.C. many Republicans are distancing themselves from Moore. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell stated that Moore would face an ethics investigation upon winning. Other reactions were just as bold and here is a brief run down. John Kennedy from Louisiana told Moore to stop lying and come clean. Lindsay Graham of South Carolina said that if Moore is barred from a mall in Alabama he should be barred from the Senate. Todd Young from Indiana said that the Senate should work at protecting its integrity. Senators Ted Cruz and John Cornyn of Texas, Bill Cassidy of Louisiana, Mike Lee of Utah and Steve Daines of Montana all withdrew their endorsement of Roy Moore. Meanwhile in the House of Representatives the leader of the National Republican Congressional Committee called for the embattled Alabama Senate candidate to withdraw. In Alabama many Republicans stood by Moore and his wife complained that they were being persecuted by the mainstream media. The three largest newspapers in Alabama in editorials called for Moore to withdraw from the race.
Russell Moore Enters into the Alabama Race Swinging
As the Senate race scandal dragged on and grew another aspect developed on November 13, 2017. After the fifth woman Beverly Young Nelson reported on how Moore allegedly assaulted her Russell Moore (not to be confused with Roy Moore) took to Twitter and challenged Alabama evangelicals. Russell Moore is the President of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission. Moore tore into Alabama evangelicals for putting politics above women and standing up for the vulnerable. Moore’s Tweets actually got some attention by the political and traditional press. The Hill wrote about this in “Top evangelical leader tears into Roy Moore’s defenders.” Plus the Los Angeles Times which is covering Roy Moore’s campaign also wrote about Russell Moore’s response in “The Roy Moore controversy is a thorny issue for Alabama Baptists.” You can see Russell Moore’s tweets up above.
Saturday Night Live on Roy Moore scandal
We Got into this Situation Because of Evangelical Christian Support of Donald Trump. Dismissal of the Access Hollywood Tape Opened the Door to Roy Moore
The question must be asked…how did we get here? How did we get to the point that you have an alleged child molester running for the United States Senate and many evangelicals throwing their support behind him? I think the issue goes back to Donald Trump and the way evangelicals embraced him. The warning signs with Donald Trump are dark…he actually boasted of rape and many evangelicals embraced him anyway. Actually on election day in 2016 81% of evangelicals did so. Many apparently were not bothered by his comments as to how you “grab them by the pussy.” 19 women have come forward and alleged horrific behavior but that doesn’t seem to bother evangelicals. Perhaps that is why many evangelicals in Alabama are dismissing Beverly Young Nelson or Leigh Corfman. For many evangelicals sexual assault or child molestation appears not to be a moral issue at all. Does this Senate race in Alabama explain why the Southern Baptist convention is awash in the problem of child sex abuse? Does this explain other parts of evangelicalism as well? After all if you are not going to care about a Donald Trump voter who makes a serious and credible allegation against Roy Moore, why would you care about a Sunday School teacher or worship leader who molests a child in a church in Alabama? The Senate race in my view is a dark indicator as to how unhealthy and downright toxic many parts of evangelicalism is. But we are in this situation today because of evangelical Christians. When they embraced Donald Trump that opened the door to embrace Roy Moore. It is a natural progression. You do not have to go that far from the issue of rape to the issue of alleged child molestation. And yet many evangelicals believe the United States or the world is lost?
Why Many Evangelical Christians are Spiritually Lost and Morally Bankrupt; If People are Comfortable with what Moore Allegedly did Why is Child Molestation Illegal?
As I do my final section on this post let’s look at the state of American evangelicalism. The situation in Alabama reveals that it is quite toxic. For me it indicates that many evangelicals are profoundly lost, confused and morally bankrupt. The fact remains that you have a choice between an alleged child molester vs. a conservative Democrat, and many evangelicals are supporting the alleged child molester. This is a not complicated, and its an easy choice, yet the fact remains that many evangelicals are stuck in this tunnel vision. Its profoundly sad that they speak of abortion and yet as you can read above in the culture war section, abortion didn’t even trigger the culture war! For me this also is another indicator of the scandal of the evangelical mind. The fact that many evangelicals in Alabama can not think critically about these issue only confirms that deep entrenched problems of evangelicalism. You can read more about the scandal of the evangelical mind in “From Mormonism in Montana to Sovereign Grace in the Washington, D.C. Area; The Scandal of the Evangelical Mind Comes Full Circle.” What evangelicals have done has been to trade the Christian faith for a new quasi-political party that marries the worst aspects of both. The effects of this are profound in that it is driving people away and giving many atheists legitimate reasons to tear apart the Christian faith. There is nothing resembling the Christian faith since many evangelicals married the two together. When I see how some Christians are reacting to gay marriage it leaves me to wonder, how would some of these people thrive in Rome? For me I firmly believe that faith should be completely divorced from politics. Christian pastors should not speak about it, they should not openly talk about it, they should focus on other things. That comment in the Washington Post that leads this post is a perfect description of modern evangelicalism.
In seeing how many evangelicals are reacting in Alabama to the situation with Roy Moore its led me to ask the following question. Why is child molestation illegal? If they think that what Moore allegedly did is natural and fine, why are there laws on the books? This has been something that I have spent some time thinking about and I just can not get this at all. The other issue I would like to point out is that the situation with Roy Moore is not about gay marriage or abortion. For me it turns the spotlight on places like Congregational Methodist (Bruce Jenkins of Young’s Chapel in Piedmont) or Free Presbyterian Church of America (Myron Mooney of Trinity Presbyterian Church in Trinity) Southern Baptist (John McCrummen of Open Door Baptist of Enterprise) Assembly of God (Lane and Margie Simmons of First Assembly of God in Greenville). The Independent Fundamentalist Baptist denomination is a cess pool, we all know that. The fact that they are supporting Moore should come as no surprise. But what about the Southern Baptist, Congregational Methodist, Free Presybeterian Church or Assembly of God? Here is the question I would like to ask..is Bruce Jenkins church have problems with child sex abuse? Has it been dealt with in a way that Bruce is dismissive of the allegations facing Roy Moore? What John McCummen’s Southern Baptist Church? Does that church have sexual assault issues? Is that why they are supporting Roy Moore? Again these are questions I am asking out loud, I am not saying anything definitive about Young’s Chapel or Open Door Baptist? I will throw this offer on the table…if there are issues in any of these churches supporting Roy Moore I will be happy to write about them and discuss them. For me this is a dark post to write but it begs questions. When it comes to evangelicals and politics these are issues that deserve attention and discussion. Its my sincere hope that Christians in Alabama will vote against Roy Moore. That they will come to their senses and realize the enormity of the problem. Well that is it for the day, know that I care about you guys!