Contrary to numerous media reports, 53 pastors didn’t just endorse Roy Moore after the sexual assault allegations against him. Conservative Christians are very divided over whether or not to continue their support. That did not stop quite a few outlets from portraying Christian leaders as utter hypocrites, however.
“A group of 53 Alabama pastors signed onto a letter pledging their support for alleged child molester and Senate candidate Roy Moore,” Newsweek‘s Carlos Ballesteros began his report. “The letter, first posted on Moore’s wife’s personal Facebook page, describes the embattled candidate as a friend to religious conservatives and a staunch opponent of the ‘Washington establishment.'”
The Newsmax report also said the letter came out Monday. “Fifty-three Alabama pastors on Monday released a letter of support for Republican Senate candidate Roy Moore despite multiple accusations of sexual misconduct on his part,” that story read.
Dear friends and fellow Alabamians,
For decades, Roy Moore has been an immovable rock in the culture wars – a bold defender of the “little guy,” a just judge to those who came before his court, a warrior for the unborn child, defender of the sanctity of marriage, and a champion for religious liberty. Judge Moore has stood in the gap for us, taken the brunt of the attack, and has done so with a rare, unconquerable resolve.
As a consequence of his unwavering faith in God and his immovable convictions for Biblical principles, he was ousted as Chief Justice in 2003. As a result, he continued his life pursuit by starting the Foundation for Moral Law, which litigates religious liberty cases around our Nation. After being re-elected again to Chief Justice in 2012, by an overwhelming majority, he took another round of persecution for our faith as he stood up for the sanctity of marriage between one man and one woman.
You can know a man by his enemies, and he’s made plenty – from the radical organizations such as the Southern Poverty Law Center and the ACLU to the liberal media and a handful of establishment politicians from Washington. He has friends too, a lot of them. They live all across this great State, work hard all week, and fill our pews on Sunday. They know him as a father, a grandfather, a man who loves God’s Word and knows much of it by heart, a man who cares for the people, a man who understands our Constitution in the tradition of our Founding Fathers, and a man who deeply loves America. It’s no wonder the Washington establishment has declared all-out war on his campaign.
We are ready to join the fight and send a bold message to Washington: dishonesty, fear of man, and immorality are an affront to our convictions and our Savior and we won’t put up with it any longer. We urge you to join us at the polls to cast your vote for Roy Moore.
That very same text showed up in the August 15 letter. The original letter had a few more paragraphs at the beginning:
From the pulpit to hospital rooms, from wedding altars to the funeral home, from the Capitol to our prisons, we are called to serve Jesus Christ in every area of life. With our calling comes a responsibility to address such compelling cultural issues as the special election for United States Senate. We have the opportunity this Tuesday, August 15, to send a man to Washington who shares our convictions, will fight for morality, and will restore integrity in the halls of Congress. That man is Judge Roy Moore.
America has never been in a more desperate position of needing a strong, principled leader than we find ourselves in today. Exodus 18:21 gives us wise criteria for selecting our public officials when it tells us to “… look for able men from all the people, men who fear God, who are trustworthy and hate a bribe, and place such men over the people…” In acknowledging that wisdom, Noah Webster wrote in 1837, “…let it be impressed on your mind that God commands you to choose for rulers just men who will rule in the fear of God. The preservation of a republican government depends on the faithful discharge of this duty; if the citizens neglect their duty and place unprincipled men in office, the government will soon be corrupted …”
This is a rare occasion where both opportunity and responsibility converge. We are privileged to shoulder this responsibility and vote on Tuesday to elect a senator who is able, who fears God, and who is trustworthy. Judge Roy Moore is uniquely qualified to represent us, fight for our values, and restore integrity and honor to our nation’s Capitol.
Mrs. Moore reposted the close of the letter, so it did not seem to date from August 15. The kicker? The signers complained that Moore’s campaign didn’t reach out to them before republishing the letter.
“I was not asked about this story or allegations,” Tijuanna Adetunji of the Fresh Anointing House of Worship in Montgomery, Ala., told AL.com.
“The list that has recently circulated was evidently copied and pasted from the August endorsements without checking to see if I still endorsed Moore,” Thad Endicott, pastor at Heritage Baptist Church, told AL.com. He asked that his name be removed from the endorsement.
A pastor from middle Tennessee actually said he was never asked to sign the original endorsement letter. Dr. George Grant, pastor at Parish Presbyterian Church in Franklin, told WSMV 4 news he hadn’t spoken with Moore in over a decade.
To be fair, some of the pastors have expressed their continued support, and cast doubt on the sexual assault allegations.
Frank Raddish, pastor at the Capitol Hill Independent Baptist Ministries, doubted whether Nancy Wells, the mother of Leigh Corfman — the woman who accused Moore of sexually assaulting her when she was 14 years old — would really wait so long to get redress for her daughter.
“If the mother was so concerned for her daughter and what had happened, you would be at the police’s door that day or the next day when they found out, or the daughter would,” Raddish told Huffpost. The pastor added that congressional Republicans who have attacked Moore, such as Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), have merely adopted the news in order to attack a man they already opposed.
“The overseer of this Democrat plantation is John McCain,” Raddish alleged. “These other Republicans are the political field hands picking cotton on the Democrat plantation. They do not want a very principled, convicted man to be up there in the U.S. Senate.”
Other signers also doubted the allegations against Moore.
“I would have to sit back and wonder why it’s been 38 years since something like that came out,” Bruce Word, pastor of the Freedom Church in Gadsden, Ala., told HuffPost. “Any time any one is abused or any female goes through anything like that, that’s a tragedy,” Word said. He did insist, however, that Moore should be considered “innocent until proven guilty.”
Paul Hubbard, pastor of Lakeview Baptist Church in Montgomery, actually argued that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) should step down. “I believe the accusations that have come out are false,” Hubbard said. “Some of the people in Washington are so quick to jump and accuse are accused of much worse than Judge Moore.”
According to a recent poll, 37 percent of evangelicals in Alabama said they were “more likely” to support Moore after hearing about the allegations.
The support for Moore — though it is far from universal — too easily welcomes cries of hypocrisy. After all, social conservatives rightly led the charge against President Bill Clinton for abusing his position to sexually assault young women. Can they support Moore when he is accused of similar charges? As of yet, Moore has flatly denied the charges and their timing is indeed suspect, but they are still unsettling and Moore has not flatly denied ever knowing all these women.
The news of the allegations, the evangelicals supporting him anyway, and the pastors stubbornly sticking with Moore is bad enough, without the added false reports about more than 50 pastors signing a new statement endorsing him. While many media outlets might have jumped on these pastors, assuming the worst form of bigotry and hypocrisy, it seems the reporters themselves were the ones rushing to conclusions.