Christian leaders have been speaking out with various opinions following Democrat Doug Jones' surprise victory Tuesday night against Republican candidate Roy Moore in the U.S. Senate seat battle in the mostly Republican state of Alabama.
Reuters reported on Wednesday morning that with 99 percent of the vote counted, Jones enjoyed a lead of 1.5 percentage points over Moore, though the latter was refusing to concede.
Alabama Secretary of State John Merrill said it was "highly unlikely" that anything would change with the election results, declaring that "the people of Alabama have spoken."
Jones, who is a Christian, secured a surprise victory despite his pro-choice views in a largely conservative state.
Moore, on the other hand, attracted major controversy but denied all allegations of sexual misconduct against him, with one woman coming forward in November stating that when Moore was in his early 30s, he initiated a sexual encounter with her when she was 14.
Here are 5 reactions, from President Donald Trump and prominent Christian voices, to Jones' victory.
1. Donald Trump
Trump, who did not indicate that he believes the sexual misconduct allegations against Moore, and backed the Republican during the general election but not during the primary, tweeted a congratulatory message for Jones:
"Congratulations to Doug Jones on a hard fought victory. The write-in votes played a very big factor, but a win is a win. The people of Alabama are great, and the Republicans will have another shot at this seat in a very short period of time. It never ends," the president wrote, referring to the fact that Jones will have a shortened term. He won the seat held by Attorney General Jeff Sessions and will be up for reelection in 2020.
Just hours before, the president had strongly warned Alabama voters against backing Jones, and expressed his confidence that they will do "the right thing."
"The people of Alabama will do the right thing. Doug Jones is Pro-Abortion, weak on Crime, Military and Illegal Immigration, Bad for Gun Owners and Veterans and against the WALL. Jones is a Pelosi/Schumer Puppet. Roy Moore will always vote with us. VOTE ROY MOORE!" Trump tweeted earlier on Tuesday.
2. Joshua DuBois
Joshua DuBois, the former head of the Office of Faith Based and Neighborhood Partnerships in the Executive Office of the President under Barack Obama, suggested that some Christians are celebrating Moore's loss not due to politics, but due to decency issues.
"Praise God. Not for a political victory. But for a level of basic decency, standards, & dignity restored. There's so much to be concerned about, cause for pessimism in this nation," DuBois tweeted.
"But there's also hope on the horizon. Let's build on this, and rebuild. Praise God."
DuBois, who once was named one of the 33 most influential Christian leaders under 33 by Christianity Today, had tweeted earlier in hopes of a Moore defeat: "Alabama: surprise me, please."
Following the developments on Tuesday night, he replied to his own message with: "Thank y'all."
3. Beth Moore
Author and evangelist Beth Moore tweeted around the time of news of Moore's defeat that girls can find the inspiration to stand up for themselves.
"Little girls, there's hope on the horizon tonight for a land where you can grow up to be big girls. Strong girls. Seen girls. Heard girls who know how to stand up tall, throw your shoulders back, lift your chins high and loudly say... NO," she wrote.
In subsequent posts she clarified that she is not "rejoicing over either win or loss."
"To me this is not about candidates. It's about the character of believers faced with terribly hard choices. What I am encouraged by is that there were many people unwilling to dredge their win out of the sludge. It's a start," Moore wrote.
She also pushed back against any suggestions she backs the pro-choice position of Jones.
"I get it. I'm prolife too. But we are now faced with a powerful poignant challenge: to place our trust steadfastly & ferociously in God & pray our hearts out for a plummeting in abortion, believing God to show his mighty saving hand. Prayer works. There's nothing He can't do," she added.
Moore has been using her social media platform to speak out against sexual abuse in society, previously stating that culture is "under sexual assault by the evil one."
4. Mark Tooley
Mark Tooley, president of the conservative Institute on Religion and Democracy, commented that Christians should not be disregarding character in politics.
"Politics always messy, w/lots of prudential judgments, often lack of clear answers, in constantly flawed circumstances involving only sinful people, but neither Christians nor others are wise to disregard character & morals altogether," Tooley wrote on Tuesday night on Twitter.
He has been critical of Moore on a number of occasions, and on Sunday wrote:
"Arguably he's made career of touting 'Christian values' while only advancing himself without advancing & perhaps impairing causes traditional Christians support."
Moore and late-night host Jimmy Kimmel had sparred over the phrase "Christian values" in an earlier exchange.
5. Mike Huckabee
Former governor of Arkansas and Christian minister Mike Huckabee argued that Moore has little to gain by not conceding the election.
"Roy Moore won't concede; says will wait on God to speak. God wasn't registered to vote in AL but the ppl who voted did speak and it wasn't close enough for recount. In elections everyone does NOT get a trophy," Huckabee tweeted early Wednesday morning.
"I know first hand but it's best to exit with class," the former Republican presidential candidate wrote.
Huckabee initially endorsed Moore back in September, stating "if the GOP establishment is horrified at the notion of Judge Moore being elected, then by all means, let's hope the wonderful people of Alabama make Judge Moore into Senator Moore!"
Responding to the allegations of sexual misconduct again Moore, Huckabee added earlier this month: "He's denied the charges against him vehemently and categorically ... none of this is good, none of us like this idea that people have these clouds over them, but I think he ultimately wins."