Faith is no excuse for assault

Spencer Buckner

Five women have now accused Roy Moore, the Republican nominee in Alabama’s Senate race, of sexual misconduct. All have described a 30-something-year-old Moore pursuing and, in some cases, assaulting them as teenagers. As evidence piles up against Moore, Republicans are rescinding their support from a man whose actions have now been confirmed by many. While Moore is experiencing an exodus of support, his remaining allies are finding more heinous excuses to defend his actions, including invocations of the Bible. Regardless of your faith, these defenses of Moore represent a disturbing and shameful low in American politics.

Not long after the allegations surfaced, Alabama state auditor Jim Ziegler likened Moore’s relations with teenagers to the biblical Joseph and Mary, who raised Jesus despite what some believe to be a similar age gap. “There’s just nothing immoral or illegal here,” Ziegler concluded. Jerry Moore, Roy Moore’s brother, issued his own defense. In his eyes, his brother is someone “persecuted … like Jesus Christ was.” You don’t need to be Christian to be appalled by these statements. Moore is no Christ figure — if anything, he’s quite the opposite.

On November 12, Kayla Moore, Moore’s wife, re-released a letter of support from over 50 Alabama pastors that was written long before the allegations surfaced. In it, the pastors affirm their support for the famously stubborn evangelical — a man removed twice from the Alabama Supreme Court for shunning federal law in favor of extreme religious convictions. In the wake of Moore’s exposed sexual misconduct, the original words of the pastors takes on a much more sinister meaning. The letter concludes with a warning to Washington D.C. that “dishonesty … and immorality are an affront to (the pastors’) convictions and (their) Savior and (they) won’t put up with it any longer.” Many of those who originally wrote the letter say the Moore campaign did not contact them about re-releasing it following the scandal, but that doesn’t matter to Moore. His campaign knows the power of religion in Alabama, and they aren’t afraid to twist it to defend indefensible actions.

Thankfully, only a minority justify Moore’s actions with religious invocation. Regardless, religion and religious texts still fulfill dubious agendas, sexual assault included. Moore’s defenders bend and cherry-pick scripture to support his predation, horribly misconstruing the Bible’s moral compass. And for what? No more than an attempt to con voters with bogus religious justifications for wholly immoral and despicable acts. Moore’s supporters hope to normalize predation and assault to the over 70 percent of Americans who are followers of the Christian faith. Partisans have a history of going to the ends of the earth to support their team, but this is easily a new low.

For 40 years, Moore’s victims were silenced by fear of the repercussions they would face for speaking out. Now that they’ve done so, those fears have come to fruition. No survivor of sexual assault should have their religion — or any religion — used against them as a defense or justification of their abuser’s actions.

Moore continues to call his campaign a “spiritual battle” in light of the mounting allegations against him. He’s almost right. His campaign is waging an all-out spiritual war in Alabama, one that pits morality and justice against hyper-partisanship and a pervasive rape culture. Let’s hope Alabamians choose the right side.

Buckner is a Plan II and government freshman from Austin. He is a columnist.