Al-Jazeerah: Cross-Cultural Understanding
Opinion Editorials, January 2018
Credibility of evangelicals, including Franklin Graham, evaporates in Moore mess
citizen-times.com, Nov. 25, 2017
OK, if Jesus isn't weeping, he must not be following the whole Roy Moore saga unfolding in Alabama, including how evangelicals have flocked to Moore's defense. That comes despite allegations from nine women who have come forward to say Moore, the Republican candidate for the U.S. Senate, initiated sexual advances toward them when they were teenagers, including one who was 14 at the time.
Moore was in his 30s and a district attorney at the time.
This does not seem to bother Alabama's evangelical Christians.
On Nov. 12, Newsweek reported this: "Nearly 40 percent of evangelical Christians in Alabama say they're now more likely to vote for Roy Moore after multiple allegations that he molested children, even as voters across the historically red state now seem to be punishing Moore for his past actions, a new poll shows."
Hey, Alabama's governor said she's going to vote for Moore — and she believes his accusers.
These days there's plenty of famous-men sex sleaze to go around on all sides of the political spectrum. For crying out loud, even grandfatherly Tar Heel native Charlie Rose, a CBS and PBS newsman, has taken a fall.
That happens when you think it's fine to walk around buck nekkid in front of female employees.
And let's not forget the Groper-in-Chief, President Trump, who got elected despite numerous women coming forward to lodge complaints about him assaulting them, and his recorded claim that he could grab woman by the, ahem, nethers, and get away with it.
Trump, not known for a sense of decorum or even basic decency, last week had the gall to bust Sen. Al Franken's chops, in part because Franken acknowledged his wrongdoing after posing for a photo in which he appears to be touching (or on the verge of touching) a sleeping woman's breasts.
Yes, Franken was clearly wrong, but in Trump's world, if you acknowledge your indecency and apologize, you're a creep and a loser who should resign.
If you don't, you become president. But I digress.
Moore's case is particularly troubling because of the age of the alleged victims, not that this matters to his supporters. That would include Alabama's state auditor, who famously defended Moore in a Washington Examiner interview, saying, "Also take Joseph and Mary. Mary was a teenager and Joseph was an adult carpenter. They became parents of Jesus.”
Former Alabama Chief Justice and U.S. Senate candidate Roy Moore waits to speak at the Vestavia Hills public library Saturday in Birmingham, Alabama. (Photo: Brynn Anderson, AP)
Can I get a "Sweet Jesus!" here?
Here's the bottom line, evangelicals don't really care about a politician's morals anymore. Maybe that used to be important to them, but it's clearly not anymore.
I blame this mostly on Bill Clinton, the current grandaddy of political sleaze. Evangelicals and other conservatives feel Clinton got away with much worse than Moore or Trump or pretty much anyone short of Caligula, and Democrats bathed in hypocrisy by electing him and then failing to call for his resignation.
To be honest, Democrats did screw the pooch by not demanding Clinton's ouster back in the day. They came across as not being any more principled or any less hypocritical than the evangelicals of today.
So yeah, now it's the evangelicals' turn to bask in hypocrisy while winning politically.
They flocked to Donald Trump, despite serial cheating, multiple marriages, sexual assault allegations, mockery of a handicapped reporter, unceasing vulgarity, unchecked greed, open disrespect of a Vietnam POW and a Gold Star family, identifying a Bible verse in a way that clearly shows he has only a passing relationship with the Good Book, and generally lying about even the most simply verifiable of facts.
More than 80 percent of white, born-again evangelicals voted for Trump in 2016, according to the Pew Research Center.
Here's another fun little nugget: back in 2011, 30 percent of white evangelicals said that "an elected official who commits an immoral act in their personal life can still behave ethically and fulfill their duties in their public and professional life," according to an NPR story. By the fall of 2016, a PRRI/Brookings poll found that 72 percent said the theoretical immoral politician could fulfill their public and professional duties.
Wow! It's a miracle!
Some evangelicals even view Trump as ordained by God to save our country — you know, to take it back again.
Franklin Graham, who's been an ardent Trump supporter, is just the latest evangelical to openly support Roy Moore. On Nov. 17, Graham, son of world famous evangelist Billy Graham and head of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, tweeted, "The hypocrisy of Washington has no bounds. So many denouncing Roy Moore when they are guilty of doing much worse than what he has been accused of supposedly doing. Shame on those hypocrites.”
Yes, I'm a fan of irony, too.
Graham offered no evidence for his assertion, and I didn't hear back from his public relations folks last week when I requested clarification.
I guess it's deeply Christian to just assume Moore's many accusers are all lying, while casting aspersions on others' reputations.
It's easy to blame hypocrisy and human nature for evangelicals turning a blind eye to seeming illegality and obvious indecency.
But I think it's more than that. Evangelicals feel like outsiders in America, besieged by a country that they think has become too liberal, too agnostic and too mocha colored. In Trump and Moore they see fellow outsiders bashing the establishment, taking the hated "liberal media elite" down a notch and standing up for "traditional values," a stance that invokes the wrath of the progressive snowflakes that are ruining the country.
What these atheists and agnostics need, as one of Moore's supporters hollered at a scrum of reporters dogging the candidate, is to get some Jesus in their lives.
Because, you know, Jesus would be down with Moore's alleged, attempted seductions of teens, I suppose, not to mention the gilded, immoral, callous world of Donald Trump.
I think what really drives evangelicals is not any genuine sense of morality or piety or following the teachings of Christ, but rather political pragmatism.
In a strange way, I respect that. All they want in a politician is that almighty "R" behind their name, because they know a Republican will nominate conservative judges to lifetime appointments, talk about restricting abortion and maybe invoke God during a speech.
Oh, and the Republican will keep the evil left from taking your bump stocks away so you can keep the AR-15 firing in full auto mode. You could even engrave the 10 Commandments on it (Put "Thou Shalt Not Kill" in lower case, though).
It's all just a tortured mess of logic, scripture and paranoia, but it works. It's all about winning politically.
We need some Jesus, indeed.
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