For those evangelicals who steadfastly support the most conservative positions of the Republican Party – anti-abortion, anti-liberal, pro-gun rights, and of course, anti-Obama and anti-Clinton – the Roy Moore “situation” is a dilemma of considerable proportion.
These Republicans, after all, skewered President Bill Clinton over the Monica Lewinsky affair, and rightly so. Clinton’s behavior is back in the spotlight, even now, in light of the accusations that Moore years ago made advances on teenagers (he was in his 30s at the time), and a growing awareness of sexual harassment after allegations and more involving actor Kevin Spacey and comedian Bill Cosby, along with North Carolina native Charlie Rose.
New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand stirred a firestorm among Democrats when she said that in hindsight, Clinton should have resigned the presidency when the Lewinsky story came to light. And the truth is, in putting the Clinton story in the context of today, Gillibrand may have more Democrats agreeing with her, though Clinton allies will never acknowledge it.
One group that will enthusiastically endorse Gillibrand’s idea, already has, is one that agrees with her on few things – those evangelicals.
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But now they’re faced with a test. Roy Moore, the GOP nominee for U.S. senator from Alabama, has even some Republicans in Washington saying the women who have made accusations against him are credible, a tacit acknowledgement that in their view he likely did what the women say he did.
But some evangelicals are continuing to stand by Moore, with one, Rev. David Floyd of Opelika, Alabama, saying “I know his heart” in backing Moore. Floyd in 1998 said that Bill Clinton should resign after the Lewinsky affair came to light.
It’s true, of course that Moore has denied all allegations, and that Clinton, eventually, did not. Neither has Sen. Al Franken, a liberal Democratic senator from Minnesota who also stands accused of harassment.
But evangelicals who were so ready to oust Clinton cannot avoid outspoken observers who say they’re being hypocritical to strongly defend Moore even as several women, none of whom appears to have anything to gain, speak out, and strongly so with specifics.
Evangelicals as a group didn’t draw much attention from either political party until the last 40 years. The most notable evangelical of that time, ironically, may in fact have been a liberal Democrat, candidate and then-President Jimmy Carter. Not paying attention to this significant group, given strength by the depth of faith its members shared, was foolish on the part of Republicans and Democrats.
Republicans captured the evangelical vote, and have it still – even when the GOP candidate is Donald Trump, who is certainly not an evangelical and was found to have made some inflammatory, sexist comments about women, comments caught on tape.
Evangelicals are of course entitled to their beliefs, religious and political. But in the case of Roy Moore, they cannot escape the harsh irony of some, in fact apparently many, in their number continuing to support someone whose character issues are giving discomfort to even some of the most conservative members of Congress.