There is a battle being fought for the soul of America and, so far, it looks like the good guys are losing.
No, this isn’t the War on Christmas. That’s a different channel. You can tell me Merry Christmas or Happy Holidays and I won’t be bothered. You can even wish me a Happy Hanukah. I’m not Jewish, but I’m all for happiness for any reason.
Something that isn’t making me happy is watching the Religious Right move much more toward the right than religion. The political wing of the religious world is letting politics influence their religion when it should be the other way around.
The Alabama Senate special election to replace Jeff Sessions has become a litmus test for the Republican Party and especially the religious right. Those test results aren’t good.
It is amazing to me that it has only been one year since America’s Electoral College put Donald Trump in the White House despite video admissions of sexual misconduct and allegations of sexual abuse and assault. It is more shocking that it has only been about six weeks since similar allegations against Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein started a chain reaction that has spread like a wildfire across several industries and the political world.
The “me too” movement emboldened women who were victims of sexual abuse and harassment to come forward and tell their truth.
One of the men who was snared by those truths is Alabama judge and Republican Senate candidate Roy Moore.
Several women came forward to accuse Moore of inappropriate or illegal relationships from about four decades ago. Moore’s official position is that he did nothing wrong.
He asked rhetorically why women would wait about 40 years to bring these charges to light if it wasn’t for political reasons. It is almost like Moore hasn’t read a newspaper or watched news on television for the past six weeks.
Even FOX and Friends covered the sexual scandals that involved people on the left.
If these women wanted fame or to score political points, they could have come forward when Moore was removed from the bench for masquerading as a religious freedom fighter trying to protect a Ten Commandments statue. They could have blasted the man who claimed homosexuality leads to child abuse when he was being removed from the bench for not allowing same sex marriages. He brought up child sexual abuse on his own. If his accuser — who claims to have had a sexual encounter with Moore when he was in his 30s and she was 14 — wanted to hit him where it hurts, that would have been the time. Not only would it have hurt his professional standing at the time, it would have ended his chance to get this campaign off the ground.
But these women didn’t come forward. According to the reporting, the women were found by reporters. The stories had been floating around Alabama for years. There has been a shift in credibility and response to these stories over the past few years that has accelerated rapidly in the past few weeks.
I can’t imagine telling a story like that if it weren’t true. What woman would make such an admission? They know they will be called liars. They know Moore’s supporters will come after them and accuse them of any number of things to protect their guy.
Unfortunately, that isn’t just a job for political operatives. In 2017, religious leaders treat suspects like victims and victims like suspects.
Since the allegations were first reported, Gordon Klingenschmitt, Bryan Fischer, Matt Barber and even Jerry Falwell Jr. have come out in support of Moore and attacked his accusers.
Of course, Moore was a special guest of Sean Hannity and, even if I had believed Moore before that interview, I wouldn’t now. Moore claims he never knew the woman who said he had an encounter with her at the age of 14. What Moore admitted to was bad enough for me. He says he had the permission of mothers before he dated teenagers as a 30-something year old man. When Hannity asked Moore if he dated teens in his 30s, Moore’s answer was damning.
“Not generally, no.” Moore said.
Not generally? I don’t generally eat an entire medium pizza for dinner, but trust me, it has happened and you would be foolish to believe otherwise.
The women who make these claims deserve better. The woman told family and friends the same story about her experience with Moore for years.
Several in the religious community are calling out those who are more concerned about partisan points than parishioner pain.
Russell Moore, the President of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, said “Whether in the hills of Hollywood or the halls of power, it doesn’t matter. This is true: sexual assault and child molestation are evil, unjust, satanic.”
Moore went on to say, “I am heartbroken by how often I hear of women and girls who’ve been assaulted and abused, and didn’t feel they could go to their church for help. This should not be.”
When the church demoralizes its mission and becomes a political committee, it sells its soul and jeopardizes those of its congregants.
The church has to fight abuses of any kind. If Bill Clinton and Harvey Weinstein take advantage of women, their actions should be judged harshly. If Donald Trump and Roy Moore take part in the same activities, they should receive the same judgment.
Right and wrong don’t have a party affiliation. There are plenty of partisans to handle the attacks. The church needs pastors to tend to the flock.
— Kent Bush is publisher of Shawnee (Oklahoma) News-Star and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.