Conservative evangelicals are divided over fellow Alabama Senate candidate and champion of Christian values, Judge Roy Moore.
Moore is facing multiple allegations from women who claim he sexually assaulted or harassed them as teenagers. Though the claims allegedly occurred long in the past, they are still very serious. Moore denies the charges and refuses to withdraw from the race, arguing he is a victim of a political hit job to derail his Senate campaign.
Moore's wife, Kayla, posted a letter to Facebook showing that he has the backing of 50 pastors in their state. Since the allegations, however, four have asked to have their names removed.
Still, more than a dozen pro-family leaders held a press conference this week and said, "We stand with Judge Roy Moore, a man of integrity who has never wavered from his valiant defense of the unborn, the Ten Commandments, and the Constitution. We are confident the voters of Alabama will not be fooled by suspiciously timed accusations without evidence and will reject the politics of personal destruction led by the Washington Post."
Participants included such heavy-weights as Janet Folger Porter of Faith2Action, Dr. Stephen Hotze of Hotze Health and Wellness Center, Dr. Alan Keyes of Renew America, Andy Schlafly of Phyllis Schlafly's Eagle Forum, Pastor Stephen Broden, President of Protect Life & Marriage, Rabbi Noson Shmuel Leiter, and Flip Benham of Operation Rescue. Franklin Graham and Jerry Falwell Jr. have also voiced support for Moore.
But others like David French have asserted that evangelicals who support Moore are demonstrating a lack of faith by possibly making an alliance with evil in pursuit of some political objective. "I'm sorry evangelicals," said French, "but your lack of faith is far more dangerous to the church than any senator, any President, or any Justice of the Supreme Court."
Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission President, Russell Moore, made similar remarks by implying that evangelicals who support Roy Moore are hungry for political power. "A church that worships Jesus stands up for vulnerable women and girls. A church that worships power sees them as expendable," said Russell Moore.
No serious Christian believes an older man chasing after teenage girls, having sexual contact with them, kissing them, inappropriately touching them, sexually harassing or assaulting them, or having sexual intercourse with them, is anything to minimize. It's a great sin – something from which young girls should be protected.
Nevertheless, there is another sin which could be at the heart of the accusations against Moore — something apt to produce as much vulnerability and ruination as sexual misconduct — something practiced and developed like a fine art in today's politics. It's called character assassination.
Charles Krauthammer has said, "[T]he American politics industry fills the airwaves with the most virulent, scurrilous, wall-to-wall character assassination of nearly every political practitioner in the country – and then declares itself puzzled that America has lost trust in its politicians."
Bruce A. Ritter has rightly noted that many politicians who run for office rarely ever shy away from "launching verbal attacks with wild accusations, rumors, and innuendo against their rivals – all in hopes of attaining office by virtually any means necessary. And, the mindset goes, if that calls for tarnishing the reputation of others – tearing down their hopes and dreams, and even ripping apart marriages and families – then so be it. Everyone and everything are considered fair game."
The Ninth Commandment of the Big Ten declares, "Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor."
Yet America's national symbol, the bald eagle, could now be better represented by a vulture flying through her spacious skies, over her amber waves of grain and purple mountain majesties, diligently looking for some wounded or dead carcass to devour.
If any group of people should be sensitive to character assassination and its calamitous consequences, it's Christians. It was the devil's character assassination of God's benevolent nature that resulted in Eve's doubting the Lord and sinning. Her husband, Adam, did the same, and all the disasters of the world flowed from it. It was the slanderous lies told against Christ that were responsible for his crucifixion. Church history shows the first century Christians were thrown to the lions because they were falsely accused of being traitors to the Emperor and arsonists that burned Rome.
Jesus warned his followers to expect character assassination. "Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me," he said.
Many Christians can tell how they lost a job, were fired, failed to get a promotion, were ousted and ostracized because of the character assassination which was in some way tethered to their faith.
Conservative evangelicals are unjustly called bigots and homophobes because they believe the Word of God teaches same-sex marriage is a grievous sin. It's erroneously claimed they hold beliefs abusive to women because they reject much of feminist dogma and abortion. It's been repeatedly stated that politically involved conservative evangelicals are no different than radical Islamists who want to impose Sharia Law. These unjust accusations and the oft ambiguous insinuations leveled alongside them are endless.
Granted, sexual abuse of any woman, especially one by an older man still in her teens is totally unacceptable. But being a people who know first-hand the pain of muckraking and smears, Christians should find it equally unacceptable to throw a brother's stellar reputation under the bus because of unsubstantiated allegations, no matter how seemingly compelling or how long his line of accusers.
Mind you, character assassination is murder with words.
If I was a citizen of Alabama and nothing else was discovered other than what's currently known about Roy Moore, I would still vote for him on Election Day. However, if it were later demonstrated he lied, I would also be swift to urge his resignation and depending on the circumstances, possibly his prosecution.
It seems clear to me this is the position around which conservative Christians ought to unite.