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Religious conservatives defend Roy Moore

Religion News Service | 11/17/2017, 7:29 p.m.
Conservative Christian supporters of former Alabama Judge Roy Moore are defending the U.S. Senate candidate against allegations of molesting a ...
Roy Moore

Conservative Christian supporters of former Alabama Judge Roy Moore are defending the U.S. Senate candidate against allegations of molesting a 14-year-old girl decades ago — and one of them used the biblical story of Mary and Joseph to rationalize an adult being sexually attracted to a minor.

These supporters don’t expect voters will abandon Mr. Moore — a former Alabama Supreme Court chief justice and darling of a segment of the American religious right — for the same reason they didn’t turn away from President Trump when several women came forward during last year’s presidential campaign with allegations he had sexually assaulted them.

“It comes down to a question who is more credible in the eyes of the voters — the candidate or the accuser,” said Jerry Falwell Jr., president of evangelical Liberty University in Lynchburg, Va., who has endorsed both President Trump and Mr. Moore, both Republicans.

“The same thing happened to President Trump a few weeks before his election last year except it was several women making allegations,” Mr. Falwell stated in an email. “He denied that any of them were true and the American people believed him and elected him the 45th president of the United States.”

In a follow-up email, Mr. Falwell noted Mr. Moore’s denial of the allegations, saying: “And I believe the judge is telling the truth.”

According to an article published in the Washington Post, Mr. Moore allegedly molested a 14-year-old girl in Alabama when he was a 32-year-old assistant district attorney in 1979. The report said he offered to watch her while her mother was in a child custody hearing, then brought the girl to his home on two occasions, kissing, groping and partially undressing her.

He also reportedly pursued relationships with several other teenage girls.

Mr. Moore denied the allegations in an interview with Breitbart, the website run by former Trump chief strategist Steve Bannon. And in a series of tweets, Mr. Moore characterized the allegations as part of a “spiritual battle with those who want to silence our message.”

“The forces of evil will lie, cheat, steal — even inflict physical harm — if they believe it will silence and shut up Christian conservatives like you and me,” he wrote. “I believe you and I have a duty to stand up and fight back against the forces of evil waging an all-out war on our conservative values!”

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky and spokespersons for President Trump and Vice President Pence all have said, if the allegations are true, Mr. Moore would be disqualified from serving in office and should step aside in the race. Sen. John McCain of Arizona and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, both former Republican presidential nominees, also have called on Mr. Moore to step aside.

But some prominent conservative Christians endorsing Mr. Moore have not wavered.

American Family Association President Tim Wildmon said in an email that the publication’s allegation “does not change our support for Roy Moore.”

“I don’t think this kind of story will change support for him among Christians since he has categorically denied it. Most will see it as dirty politics,” Mr. Wildmon said.