Content warning: This article contains descriptions of sexual harassment and assault.
With more women stepping forward with stories about Roy Moore sexually assaulting and harassing them as teenagers, the mask was ripped off the holier-than-thou Alabama Senate candidate.
The evangelical Christian judge is probably best known for getting drummed out of the state Supreme Court in 2003 for refusing to remove a statue of the Ten Commandments that he’d had erected in front of the Alabama state judicial building — but he has a long record of cruel, bigoted stances in the name of his religious beliefs.
After again being elected chief justice, Moore denied LGBT couples in Alabama their legal right to marry following the US Supreme Court decision lifting a ban on same-sex marriage in 2015. Moore claimed that the goal of the movement for equal marriage “is to drive the nation into a wasteland of sexual anarchy that consumes all moral values.”
In 2002, Moore prevented a lesbian mother from gaining custody over her children from an abusive ex-husband — because he believed homosexuality was “an inherent evil.” “If a person openly engages in such a practice, that fact alone would render him or her an unfit parent,” he said in ruling in favor of the batterer ex-husband.
But now, the hypocrisy of Moore’s Christian “values” is on display for everyone to see after a woman stepped forward to detail how the then-32-year-old assistant district attorney forced himself on a 14-year-old girl.
That left Republicans scrambling to figure out what to do about the special Senate election in Alabama, where Moore is the candidate and was expected to win.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell evented floated the idea of Attorney General Jeff Sessions as a potential write-in candidate for his old seat if Moore won’t step out of the way — though Sessions doesn’t sound thrilled at the prospect of giving up the position in the Trump administration he sought so cravenly.
But no matter how far the Republican establishment goes to distance itself from Moore now, there’s plenty of Moore-sized hypocrisy to go around the GOP.
The Republican Party has had a long relationship with evangelicals like Moore — precisely because of their hateful Christian values rhetoric.
For decades, evangelical Christian leaders figures incited hate and conflict over social issues such as LGBT rights and abortion to push religious conservatives toward the Republican Party. And it has never mattered to the Republican Party how much fear and violence they whipped up in the process.
In the 1950s, Billy Graham scaremongered about the evils of communism in his sermons and even preached against the evils of the social safety net won during the New Deal. During the Reagan era of the 1980s, the Religious Right scapegoated women and gays and lesbians, reinforcing the idea that the 1960s and ’70s social movements had gone too far.
So while Mitch McConnell and others may pretend that Moore doesn’t belong in the party, the inconvenient truth is that he — and his hypocrisy — has been welcome there for decades.
The tolerance for the intolerant runs the other way, too. When Donald Trump — not exactly a pious or “moral” individual with his record of bragging about grabbing women “by the pussy” — became the Republican candidate for president, some political commentators questioned whether the Christian Right would fall in behind him.
The answer was clear immediately: Of course they did.
And of course they got something in return.
Trump has pandered constantly to religious conservatives — including the promise that he would stop using the supposedly politically correct “Happy holidays” instead of “Merry Christmas.”
But that’s not the only way he’s proven himself. In October, the Trump administration announced administrative rules that allow any employer to claim a religious or moral objection to Obamacare’s birth control coverage mandate — in order to deny women employees access to contraception.
In May, he signed an executive order that would allow churches to maintain their tax-exempt status even if they actively participate in politics, such as endorsing candidates — something that is currently prohibited by the Johnson Amendment. Most readers have probably heard of the concept of “separation of church and state” — but Trump is acting like he hasn’t.
Then, of course, there’s the administration’s stance on abortion, which has included an attack on federal funding for Planned Parenthood, one of the few places that poor people seeking abortions have any hoping of obtaining them.
At the National Right to Life convention this summer, a lot of attendees were thrilled that Trump was in the White House — so thrilled that they were willing to overlook how Trump behaves all the time, which is hardly in keeping with religious teachings.
“If I ask the question: do I want everybody to be virtuous? Yes, I do,” said one anti-choice activist. “But if I’m going to get my car fixed, I’m not there to clean up the guy’s language, I’m there to get the car fixed. If you can do it, I choose to pay you, I’m hiring you to fix my car. That’s what we’re doing with the president.”
Given that record, it wasn’t much of a surprise that some Republicans chose to stand by Moore, including the 5th Congressional District Republican Executive Committee in Alabama, which adopted a resolution earlier last week that smeared the media, the women who came forward about Moore and Moore’s Democratic opponent in the Senate race in defense of a man they claim “has a 30-plus-year record of outstanding honesty and moral public service in Alabama.”
Apparently, the Religious Right won’t let anything, even sexual assault allegations, get in the way of their crusade for “morality” — which really means refusing women the right to control their own bodies, denying LGBT people the right to marry, and all the other cruel and immoral stances that scapegoat the most vulnerable in society.