Clearly, you shouldn’t trust me as a political soothsayer.
When I last wrote about Roy Moore in 2016, he’d just been kicked off the Supreme Court of Alabama (again) for defying higher courts. I predicted his political career was over, since he was too old to run for the judiciary again and he’d already run for governor and lost. But the Trump-era GOP is more racist and anti-intellectual than ever, and Moore fit right in. When he staged a comeback and won the Republican primary for an open Senate seat, it seemed his victory was assured.
But I didn’t see this coming either:
Leigh Corfman says she was 14 years old when an older man approached her outside a courtroom in Etowah County, Ala. She was sitting on a wooden bench with her mother, they both recall, when the man introduced himself as Roy Moore.
…Days later, she says, he picked her up around the corner from her house in Gadsden, drove her about 30 minutes to his home in the woods, told her how pretty she was and kissed her. On a second visit, she says, he took off her shirt and pants and removed his clothes. He touched her over her bra and underpants, she says, and guided her hand to touch him over his underwear.
It’s rare that a sexual predator has just one victim, and sure enough, more women soon came forward with stories about Moore pursuing them when they were teenagers. Some just said that he asked them or their families for a date, but another, Beverly Young Nelson, alleged that Moore groped her when she was 16 and then tried to intimidate her into silence:
“He told me, he said, ‘You’re just a child,’ and he said, ‘I am the district attorney of Etowah County and if you tell anyone about this no one will ever believe you.'”
There are also multiple people who say that Moore was so notorious for harassing teenage girls, he was banned from a shopping mall in his hometown of Gadsden.
It’s no surprise at all that a swaggering, Bible-pounding, more-Christian-than-you holy warrior turns out to be hiding a moral deformity under a cloak of piety. In that respect, Roy Moore isn’t the first and won’t be the last. Here’s the shocking part:
5. On question of whether the sexual predator allegations make them more or less likely to vote for Moore, 37% of evangelicals say *more likely.* That’s a higher rate than rest of voters (29%). pic.twitter.com/7beTealka9
— Sarah Posner (@sarahposner) November 12, 2017
About four in ten Christian evangelicals like Moore better after hearing these stories. Whether they reflexively disbelieve the allegations and are clinging tighter to Moore out of spite, or whether they actually like the idea of a grown man who harasses and gropes teenagers, it scarcely matters. (An additional 34% of evangelicals say it makes no difference to them, leaving a lonely 28% minority taking the bold stance of opposing child molestation.)They’re not shy about it, either. At least two Alabama GOP county chairmen said on the record that they’d vote for Moore even if he did commit sexual assault. Alabama’s governor Kay Ivey – a woman, no less! – said outright that she believes the allegations but is going to vote for him anyway.
I thought I’d seen the depths of Christian cruelty and hypocrisy. I’ve written about evangelicals’ open embrace of white supremacism. I’ve noted their total reversal on whether a candidate’s personal life or character matters.
But I really thought there was a line somewhere. Given their fetishization of virginity and abstinence, I thought they’d at least object to this. I would’ve thought the idea of a grown man molesting girls, barely more than children, would be outrageous even to them. I was wrong.
There’s nothing they won’t tolerate, no evil they won’t embrace, just as long as the guy responsible is on “our team”. This is more than hypocrisy. It’s a void, an utter absence of morals or even simple decency. They truly have no values other than a lust for power and tribalistic hatred.
Josh Moon of the Alabama Political Reporter has a column that says it all, There is no bottom for Roy Moore Republicans:
What’s it going to take, Alabama voter?
What’s it going to take before you realize that your family values, my-sin-is-better-than-your-sin, conservative voting approach has produced a state government filled with lying, cheating, sexually assaulting, money-grubbing criminals who have embarrassed us countless times, and on top of everything, mismanaged the hell out of this place?
With that said, even in the Deep South, evangelicals aren’t the entire electorate. If there’s anything at all that would get Alabama to elect a Democrat, we may have found it. A recent poll finds Moore in a dead heat with the Democratic candidate, Doug Jones. (For the record, Doug Jones prosecuted two of the Klansman who committed the 1963 Birmingham church bombing. In a more decent world, he’d be running away with this election.)
I still think it’s more likely than not that Moore will win. The fact that there’s even a question speaks to the degradation of the Republican party. But if he does win, it will be due to the bottomless depravity and moral corruption of Christian evangelicals. However the election turns out, they’ve shown us who they really are.