On Monday, a letter signed by 53 Alabama pastors, supporting Roy Moore's Senate run was circulated by Moore's wife.
Moore, as we all know by now, has been hit with multiple accusations of dating teen girls while in his 30s, and two separate cases of inappropriate touching and sexual abuse, with a 14 year old girl and a 16 year old girl, both in the late 70s.
Other reports that have emerged is that Moore’s preference for high school girls was well known in his home community of Etowah County, Alabama, when he was serving as a district attorney.
It is Moore’s later life, as a judge and an outspoken, controversial proponent of religious liberties that earned him his reputation among evangelical circles.
Just from my own attention to this case over the past week, what I’ve found is that those who are supporting Moore now don’t want to have the conversation about character.
They certainly didn’t want that conversation during the run up to the 2016 election.
Alabama voters don’t want anyone telling them who to support, either, feeling it to be very much their business.
In a sense, they’re right, but it is those closest to Moore, the longtime residents of his community who know his past that are rolling their eyes now, when someone asks about the character of the man.
According to most, he was a character, alright.
More recent tales of a younger Moore are that he was banished from the local mall in the early 80s, as well as the YMCA, because he was harassing the teen girls.
And a 30-year old man who signs a 16 year old girl’s high school yearbook, speaking of her sweetness and beauty… is just weird.
All of this presents a conundrum for Christians. As I’ve said before, we can’t really know exactly what happened with Moore and the women who now say he victimized them in their young and formative years.
As Christians, however, we should leave room to consider that there may be something to what they’re saying.
That’s not saying that Moore couldn’t have changed his ways, but it also does not give Christians the green light to ignore the pain that may still be lingering with those women.
Christians are to uplift the broken and to act as a balm to the hurting heart. We extend grace and acceptance. It should never be our position to victimize these ladies all over again, especially not for the sake of political partisanship.
Dr. Russell Moore (no relation, I’m sure) a preacher and president of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission took to Twitter on Monday to express his disgust over how evangelicals are, once again, taking the low road, threatening the stability of their witness to the world.
In a short tweet storm, Dr. Moore made his case:
Russell Moore also called on evangelical Christians to be the "most dogged opponents of sexual predation and violence in the universe," while pointing to the Bible.
Roy Moore may be completely innocent of any wrongdoing, but it is beginning to look bad for him, and for those evangelicals defending him, he’s becoming an anchor around their necks.
Now, those pastors included in the previously mentioned letter, they seem to be rethinking their support. The letter that is being circulated now is apparently from before the primary election that gave Moore the nomination, with a few tweaks at the beginning. His wife is passing it around as "new" support. At least three of those pastors have asked to have their names removed and object to suddenly being used this way.
I'd say good for them. For those who continue to allow their name to be connected with Moore and the stories that are now clinging to him like smoke in his clothes, they will have to deal with the fallout as best they can.
There are bigger concerns.
If he goes down, what does that do to the reputation of the church? Where is the Christian church’s moral authority to help the hurting or preach salvation to the lost?
I promise you, the world will not look at those Christians who determined that for the sake of propriety, Roy Moore must step away and quietly fix this problem, and discern between those Christians and the Christians that called possible sex abuse victims “liars” and supported their abuser, no matter what. Those bad apples will spoil the whole bunch, and we will all be considered abusive and corrupt.
It’s no longer about whether he’s guilty or not. It’s about his witness to the world.