The continuing saga of Senate candidate Judge Roy Moore no longer requires a set up to explain the controversy. We do not need anyone to tell us what he allegedly did to a number of young women and girls nearly forty years ago. Furthermore, a reasonable person does not need to know more than the Washington Post stories to know that, at the very least, Judge Moore should withdraw from his Senate race in Alabama.
Even so, some issues still need explaining. For instance, what is wrong with the Christian right in this country? Why did they ignore or defend Donald Trump’s sins with women and why now do they ignore or defend Judge Moore? On the other hand, is an avowed person of faith, as Judge Moore, allowed to repent? As difficult as it might be to believe, Judge Moore’s failed memory could be the result of his moving past his bad behavior. One sign of this could be how his wife stands foursquare behind him. And, finally, does everyone understand why, regardless of innocence or guilt, Judge Moore should step down?
In response to the allegations against Judge Moore, that he sexually molested a 14-year-old girl and others, Jerry Falwell Jr., president of evangelical Liberty University says in Moore’s defense, “It comes down to a question who is more credible in the eyes of the voters — the candidate or the accuser. The same thing happened to President Trump a few weeks before his election last year…He denied that any of [the allegations] were true and the American people believed him and elected him the 45th president of the United States.” And Falwell added, “And I believe the judge is telling the truth.”
Yes, Falwell’s defense of Trump and Moore is mindboggling, if for no other reason than his father, Jerry Sr., never showed former President Bill Clinton such trust in a very similar situation. Can anyone imagine Jerry Falwell Sr. saying, “I believe Bill Clinton is telling the truth”? The loss of vision and morality among conservative evangelical leaders in the Trump era is perhaps the biggest political mystery in recent memory. For a constituency that once revered Ronald Reagan for making character king again in politics, to whistle through this graveyard of alleged gross immorality, is more than uncharacteristic. It is evil.
To defend Judge Moore on biblical grounds is beyond reason. To defend Judge Moore on the basis that the mother of Jesus was an unwed teenager at the time of her conception and that her guardian, Joseph, was an adult misses the point of the Lord’s divine parentage and, in doing so, makes a mockery of everything holy. It makes the religious right neither religious nor right.
But is there a religious argument for Judge Moore’s repentance? Isn’t he allowed forgiveness, his misdeeds forgotten and permitted to move on with his life? Isn’t everyone a sinner? Who will cast the first stone against Judge Moore? Again, we might assume that Christian preachers would understand the doctrine of repentance. To repent, a sinner must first acknowledge the sin. Judge Moore denies it ever took place or, in his latest iteration of the narrative, he simply cannot remember something from 40 years ago – except that, on his campaign website, he fully remembers his career from 40 years ago. He remembers legal cases from 40 years ago but not stalking and molesting girls. For his Christian defenders, either Judge Moore has something about which to repent or he does not. Christian forgiveness is not cheap and, if it is, there has been no repentance.
Mitt Romney rightly said about Judge Moore, “Innocent until proven guilty is for criminal convictions, not elections.” In other words, due process is for the courtroom, not politics. Perhaps the most startling aspect in the defense of Judge Moore is how otherwise seemingly intelligent people cannot see how this situation brings disrepute upon the office of a United States Senator. The word used to expel a Member of Congress or to not seat a newly elected member is disrepute. In politics, we do not have to “prove” anything except how the actions of an elected official do or do not bring disrepute upon our governing institutions. Judge Moore has no due process on the campaign stage nor is the vote itself final judgment. Mitch McConnell and his Senate colleagues are Moore’s judges and they have cast their vote against him.
Roy Moore should withdraw from his Senate race and his Christian defenders should be ashamed of themselves.