Reprinted with permission from AlterNet.
He is a judge who was suspended from his position as chief justice of the Alabama Supreme Court for failing to uphold the Constitution of the United States. But that wasn’t enough to keep Roy Moore from winning the Republican primary for the U.S. Senate seat vacated by Attorney General Jeff Sessions. If anything, it was Moore’s defiance in the face of a federal court decision mandating that government officials issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples that won him the love of the Alabamians who turned out to vote for him.
Or maybe it was that time in 2003 when Moore lost his seat on the court for refusing to remove a 2.6-ton monument of the Ten Commandments from the courthouse—a monument whose placement Moore had overseen. Take that, First Amendment!
These are the kinds of antics that have won Moore the admiration of self-described Christians on the right side of the political spectrum. And while the Ten Commandments forbid the coveting of one’s neighbor’s wife, it says nothing of the neighbor’s daughter. So while Republican leaders and elected officials slowly assemble in opposition to Moore’s candidacy in the December 12 special election, significant and politically active right-wing evangelical Christian leaders have either maintained silence or defended Moore in the wake of allegations he assaulted two teenage girls when he was in his 30s, and pursued “relationships” with an additional three teenagers.
At the Values Voter Summit hosted last month by FRC Action, the political arm of the Family Research Council, Moore was presented as a star to a conference audience of right-wing Christian political activists, who cheered him with gusto. There he delivered a largely incoherent speech complaining of how America had lost its way. During a luncheon address to a smaller group earlier in the day, Moore called for the impeachment of the justices on the U.S. Supreme Court who wrote the majority opinion that legalized same-sex marriage, according to a report by Peter Montgomery of Right Wing Watch. In fact, Moore believes that sexual relations between consenting adults of the same sex should be illegal, according to Montgomery. But sexual relations between an adult man and a teenage girl, whether she’s reached the age of consent or not, well that’s apparently the way God intended things to be.
Although Moore denies the allegations made by five women over the last several days that he sought dates or sex from them when they were teenagers and he was a thirtysomething district attorney, in an interview with Sean Hannity of Fox News, Moore did not flat-out deny that he sought to date teenagers during that time in his life. He simply said that he “generally” didn’t seek such relationships. Now, even Hannity has revoked his support for Moore.
Yet not a peep has been heard from Family Research Council president Tony Perkins. Not a word about Moore appears in recent posts on either the Family Research Council or FRC Action websites, the latter of which still shows a press release announcing FRC Action’s endorsement of Moore. “These are challenging times and our nation is looking for bold leadership,” reads a quote from Perkins in the release. FRC Action PAC Vice President Jerry Boykin adds, “Judge Roy Moore has been a fearless champion of conservative values and a great friend to the Family Research Council. It is a true privilege to endorse him for the U.S. Senate. I have no doubt that Judge Moore will follow his conscience and not be swayed by political correctness or political expediency.”
On November 13, American Family Association official Sandy Rios defended Moore. Speaking on her radio program, Rios said, according to Right Wing Watch, “Honestly, do you think there’s a person alive on the planet—certainly, I’ll limit it a little bit, I will say any man listening to my voice—that doesn’t have something in his past, in his box of secrets, that he’s ashamed of sexually?” Rios asked. “Especially, let’s just say, beginning in the ’60s.”
And the Washington Post reports that in Alabama, state-level Republican officials are sticking with Moore, regardless of the call by U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell for Moore to exit the Senate race. Failing that, McConnell predicted that Moore would be expelled from the Senate if seated, a move that would require a two-thirds vote of the body.
The Moore candidacy for Senate never was McConnell’s idea of a good move; in the primary, McConnell, like President Donald J. Trump, endorsed the incumbent Senator Luther Strange, who was appointed to the post when Sessions vacated his seat to join the Trump administration. But Steve Bannon, the former Trump campaign CEO and White House strategist who now leads Breitbart News, saw the Moore candidacy as a tool in his proxy war against McConnell, whose Senate leadership Bannon told the New York Times he’d like to end. It’s all part of Bannon’s grand plan to wed Breitbart’s alt-right fan base to the religious right, according to reporter Sarah Posner, for maximum political effect.
If there were any doubt that religious-right leaders such as Perkins and Rios are more about the politics than Christian love, their respective silence on or defense of Moore lays that doubt to rest.
As Moore himself told the Values Voter Summit audience in a verse he penned himself, “You think that God’s not angry that our land’s a moral slum? How much longer will it be before his judgment comes?”
Adele M. Stan is a weekly columnist for The American Prospect. Follow her on Twitter @addiestan.