Witness the interview between CNN’s Jake Tapper and Moore spokesman Ted Crockett on Tuesday afternoon. Crockett responded “probably” when Tapper pressed him on whether Moore believed homosexuality should be illegal. Then came this exchange between Tapper and Crockett over Muslims serving in Congress. I’m excerpting a big chunk of it because, well, you’ll see.
TAPPER: Judge Moore has also said that he doesn’t think a Muslim member of Congress should be allowed to be in Congress. Why? Under what provision of the Constitution?
CROCKETT: Because you have to swear on the Bible — when you are before — I had to do it. I’m an elected official, three terms, I had to swear on a Bible. You have to swear on a Bible to be an elected official in the United States of America. He alleges that a Muslim cannot do that, ethically, swearing on the Bible.
TAPPER: You don’t actually have to swear on a Christian bible, you can swear on anything, really. I don’t know if you knew that. You can swear on a Jewish Bible.
CROCKETT: Oh no. I swore on the Bible. I’ve done it three times.
TAPPER: I’m sure you have, I’m sure you’ve picked a Bible but the law is not that you have to swear on a Christian Bible. That is not the law. You don’t know that? All right. Ted Crockett with the Moore —
CROCKETT: I don’t know. I know that Donald Trump did it when he — when we made him President.
TAPPER: Because he’s Christian and he picked it. That’s what he wanted to swear in on. Ted Crockett with the Moore campaign. Good luck tonight. Thank you so much for being here. My panel will react when we get back
Comedian and late-night TV host Jimmy Kimmel has mentioned Alabama senate candidate and Evangelical Christian Roy Moore several times on his program, Jimmy Kimmel Live! Yesterday, Moore decided to “fight” back by tweeting on Twitter:
If you want to mock our Christian values, come down here to Alabama and do it man to man. #ALSen
Sounds great Roy – let me know when you get some Christian values and I’ll be there!
Despite D.C. and Hollywood Elites’ bigotry towards southerners, Jimmy, we’ll save you a seat on the front pew.
Kimmel, showing why it is never a good idea to get into a fight with a comedian, replied:
OK Roy, but I’m leaving my daughters at home! P.S. – wear that cute little leather vest.
I accept the invitation. I’m going to come down with a team of high school cheerleaders. … And when the girls and I show up, if you can somehow manage to keep little Roy in your cowboy pants, you and I will sit down in the food court and have a chat about Christian values.
There is no one I would rather fight. I will put my Christian values aside to fight you. I’ll wear a Girl Scout uniform, so you have something to look at. Whoever wins the fight, we’ll donate the money from tickets we sell to whatever charity we want. I’ll donate mine to the women who claim you molested them.
If you have not seen the Anthony J. “Tony” Barbieri (AKA Jake Byrd) video of Roy Moore’s recent rally at Magnolia Springs Baptist Church in Theodore, Alabama, please check it out below. It provides a serious, yet funny look into the minds of Moore supporters. It also shows how homophobic and bigoted Moore really is.
Often this narrative [sin and redemption] is particularly prevalent among evangelicals who have been accused of sexual misconduct. After evangelical television personality Josh Duggar confessed to molesting his sisters as a teenage boy, he and his family used the salvation playbook. Michael Seewald, whose son is married to one of Duggar’s sisters, spoke out against the media condemnation of Duggar, who was never charged with a crime: “The ultimate answer … is what Josh found and millions like him. He found forgiveness and cleansing from Jesus Christ. There are many of you that are reading these words right now having had thoughts and deeds no better than what Josh had and did.”
Disgraced megachurch founder Ted Haggard resigned his post in 2006, after admitting to drug abuse and a sex scandal with a male sex worker. He returned to public church life with similar rhetoric: “I am a sinner and [my wife] is a saint. … I feel we have moved past the scandal. We have forgiveness. It is a second chance.”
In other words, there’s a tendency among evangelicals to see sexual (or other) sins that have happened long ago (or even not that long ago), either prior to conversion itself or prior to a “re-conversion” or renewal of faith, as, well, natural. Of course people commit sinful acts, because sin is part of the human condition, and of course people are victims of sin without God’s grace to help free them of it.
There are a few problems with how this manifests in practice. It can absolve “saved” individuals of too much responsibility for past misdeeds, since they’re considered the deeds of a past, different self. It encourages a culture of silence among evangelicals about their struggles, since salvation is “supposed” to mean that temptation goes away, and any “backsliding” is the result of insufficient faith. Finally, this theological approach also means that “sins” tend to be conflated, especially sexual sins: consensual premarital sex and sexual abuse are often seen on the same spectrum, both the result of a temptation too great to bear.
Without God, the implication goes, people have almost no agency. In Moore’s case, the fact that his alleged sins happened so long ago — and that the intervening years have seen him become more and more committed to the idea of a theocratic Christian state— only intensify some evangelicals’ sense that Moore’s actions then (even if true) don’t necessarily have a bearing on who he is now. It’s also worth noting that in the aftermath of Trump’s campaign, evangelicals have done an extraordinary about-face when it comes to their view on the importance of politicians’ personal morality.
Many, many Christian scholars and thinkers have been intensely critical of this “get out of jail free” approach to sin and grace, as I noted earlier this month. Among the most prominent in the past century was Dietrich Bonhoeffer, a German pastor and anti-Nazi dissident who was executed in a concentration camp for his activism. Bonhoeffer distinguished between “cheap grace” — easy forgiveness that allowed individual perpetrators and oppressive societies to get away, unchallenged, with their actions — and “costly grace,” or forgiveness that also asks hard questions, and demands social change.
It’s worth noting, however, that several prominent evangelicals — including the president of Southern Baptist Convention’s policy arm, Russell Moore (no relation) — have spoken out criticizing Moore’s evangelical supporters. “Christians, if you cannot say definitively, no matter what, that adults creeping on teenage girls is wrong, do not tell me how you stand against moral relativism,” Russell Moore tweeted.
Despite this, “cheap grace” has become seemingly common in some evangelical communities, especially when there are practical political or pragmatic reasons (i.e., a Republican in power) to overlook a sin and preserve the social status quo.
More women are sexual predators than men. Women are chasing young boys up and down the road, but we don’t hear about that because it’s not PC.
These people aren’t the good neighbor next door, they’re out to target young children. They must recruit their heritage. As many of them will die from AIDS, the only way they can keep their numbers is to recruit. Pedophiles and men dressing like ladies, their objective is recruitment of children.
The pedophiles will be here tomorrow. The men who dress like women will be here. The world wants to educate our children to be tolerant of homosexuals. The homosexuals can’t grow in number unless they recruit. How do they recruit? They sodomize. That’s the only way.
I’m proud to have my name on that letter.I don’t put any stock in (these accusations) because of the timing.
According to Mooney, his wife said the recent coverage and outrage over Moore’s scandalous behavior with underage girls is akin to being raped:
Here’s what my wife has to say about rape right now. My wife says the state of Alabama is being raped by Washington and being raped by the country with these allegations.
According to the Decatur Daily, Mooney believes that Moore’s opponents have been working for months to orchestrate an attack against Moore. Specifically, Mooney blames the Democrats. I am always amused when Evangelicals resort to wild conspiracy theories to explain reports immoral or criminal behavior. Does Mooney really believe that there is some nefarious force behind nine women accusing Moore of creepy, criminal sexual misconduct? Imagine how many people it would take to pull off such a large-scale left-wing conspiracy. Occam’s razor applies here. The shortest answer is likely the truth; and the truth is that 30-year-old district attorney Moore had a perverse, stalker-like obsession over teenage girls; and that this obsession resulted in inappropriate sexual behavior.
According to Mooney, if the sexual misconduct claims are true, then the girls making them should be held accountable for not coming forward sooner. Ever the Fundamentalist, Mooney has a proof-text to justify his slut-shaming:
If there is a betrothed virgin, and a man meets her in the city and lies with her, then you shall bring them both out to the gate of that city, and you shall stone them to death with stones, the young woman because she did not cry for help though she was in the city, and the man because he violated his neighbor’s wife. So you shall purge the evil from your midst. (Deuteronomy 22:23,24)
She is then as guilty as the person that is said to have done the molestation The guilt is shared.
Pause for a moment and let Mooney’s abhorrent viewpoint sink in. Are you angry? Sick to your stomach? I know, I am.
Deuteronomy 22:23,24 teaches that if a woman is walking down the street in a city and a man rapes her, and she doesn’t cry out for help — meaning she must have really “wanted” it, then she should be executed along with her rapist. In other words, God says the rape victim is just as guilty as her rapist. Why? Because she didn’t scream loudly enough for someone to hear and come and rescue her.
Deuteronomy 22 is the same chapter of God’s inspired, inerrant, infallible Word that commands:
Women who fail a virgin test on their wedding night shall be labeled whores and executed (vs 13-21)
Women who wear “men’s” clothing are abominations (vs 5)
If a man has sex with a woman who is not engaged and they are found out, he must pay the woman’s father fifty silver shekels and marry her (with no possibility of divorce) (vs 28,29)
Mooney should roundly be condemned for what he said, but that’s not going to happen. He quoted the Bible, and dammit, God said it, and that settles it! I wonder, as I conclude this post, if, in the picture above, the tie, shirt, underwear, and suit Mooney is wearing is made of “mixed” cloth. The Bible also says in Deuteronomy 22:
Thou shalt not wear a garment of divers sorts, as of woollen and linen together. (vs 11)
How dare Pastor Mooney sin against the thrice holy God and wear mixed material clothing. Surely, his fellow Presbyterians will demand Mooney be defrocked for wearing clothing God condemns. After all, God said it, and that settles it, right? If Fundamentalists such as Mooney are going to use the Bible to justify their slut-shaming, the least they can do is obey all 635 laws in the Old Testament, and not just the ones that prop up, support, and provide cover for anti-woman views.
If you are familiar with vampire lore, you know that pure silver and garlic can protect you from vampires. Vampires are real, dammit. I watched all seven seasons of HBO’s hit series True Blood, and I am currently watching the final season of From Dusk till Dawn: The Series. After watching these shows, I have absolutely no doubt that vampires are real.
I’ve lost my mind, right? Anyone with a bit of common sense and reason knows that vampires died out with the dinosaurs. Okay, I am just pulling your leg. Vampires aren’t real. I have been reading all the defenses of Roy Moore, along with the emails I receive from Christians saying their pastor couldn’t have committed the crimes he is accused of in the Black Collar Crime Series, and I am starting to wonder if Evangelicals think Christian salvation — being born from above — is some sort of talisman that protects Christians from committing sex crimes.
I frequently receive emails from people who object to one of my Black Collar Crime stories. One woman told me her pastor couldn’t have committed sex crimes. Why? He’s a man of God, and true men of God don’t sexually molest girls. I didn’t respond to her, knowing that any attempt to talk sense into her Bible-addled mind would be futile.
As you know, Evangelical darling and Alabama senate candidate Roy Moore has been accused of sexually assaulting minor girls back when he was a thirty-year-old district attorney. He has also been accused of having a creepy obsession with female teenagers when he was younger. Moore is now married. His wife Kayla was in her early twenties — fifteen years younger than Moore — when they married. Moore’s wife says they met at a Bible study and she considers him to be one of the nicest men she has ever known. He certainly couldn’t have done what these women are accusing him of.
Dean Young, a Republican political consultant who calls himself Roy Moore’s “number one adviser,” resolutely believes that Moore is innocent of sexual misconduct. Why? Young believes that the fact Moore is a Christian inoculates him from doing such things. Young is quoted in the Washington Post as saying:
“Who says you all aren’t paying someone to do that? Go pay more people to say stuff. It’s a waste of money because people here know Judge Moore and we know he does believe in a Christian God, so that fake stuff doesn’t work with us.”
Evidently, much like vampires with garlic and silver, asking Jesus to save Evangelicals from their sins immunizes them from committing crimes. Yet, every day in the Fake News are stories about pastors, missionaries, evangelists, TV preachers, parachurch leaders, Sunday school teachers, deacons, worship leaders, church workers, and Christian family values politicians committing crimes — including rape, child abuse, sexual assault, and sexual harassment. Based on the evidence at hand, it is clear that Christianity does not provide immunity from committing crimes; that Evangelicals can and do behave no differently from the unwashed, uncircumcised Philistines of the world. Character, not Christianity, is what inoculates people from doing the things Moore is accused of. One need not believe in Jesus to treat women with respect. One need not be washed in the blood of the lamb to keep his hands off of children. All Evangelical Christianity does for perverts, predators, rapists, voyeurs, and child molesters is give them a façade to hide behind as they commit their crimes. Knowing that Christians are inherently naïve and quick to forgive and forget, these perverse men of God and followers of Jesus act with impunity, quickly explaining away whispers about their behavior. Much like vampires in the light of day, many Evangelicals cannot or will not see what is right in front of them. Their unwillingness to see things as they are only emboldens abusive Christians, leading to greater depths of depravity. This kind of thinking must cease, with Christians being brutally and critically honest about their culpability in the explosion of Evangelical sex crime stories.
It’s time to put a wooden stake through the heart of the belief that Christianity makes people morally superior. It doesn’t. The majority of Americans are Christians. This means that the majority of crimes committed in the United States are perpetrated by people who believe Jesus is their savior. I know of no evidence that suggests that atheists or other non-Christians are more likely to commit crimes. (Please read Misinformation and Facts About Secularism and Religion.) Thus, it is clear that Christianity, in and of itself, does not keep people from doing anything — legal or illegal. We know that purity vows and thunderous preaching against premarital sex doesn’t keep Christian teens from having sex. Much like their secular, non-Christian counterparts, Evangelical teens, with hormones raging, lustily engage in sexual conduct which Evangelicals deem “immoral.”
Did Roy Moore do what he is accused of? It is likely that he did. Like Bill Cosby before him, Moore is now facing an increasing number of accusations of sexual misconduct. If there were just one accusation, it could be chalked up to he-said, she-said. But now that there are numerous women claiming that Moore acted inappropriately, there is little doubt of his guilt. As is often the case with Christian family values politicians, their talk is cheap. Pay attention to what they do, not what they say. In Moore’s case, it’s evident that he had a thing for teen girls, and sometimes his behavior went beyond that of an older man hitting on high school girls.
The same goes for Evangelicals who object when I turn the Black Collar Crime spotlight on their pastors and church leaders. In most instances, there are numerous reports of criminal/sexual misconduct. The likelihood of collusion or conspiracy is remote. I know it is hard for people when the sins of their religious heroes are exposed for all to see. Surely, everyone is lying, right? Occam’s razor applies here. The shortest, simplest explanations are usually the truth. Evangelical churches (along with Catholic churches) have become havens for bad men to commit despicable acts. Worse yet, it is unlikely that these “fallen” Christians were caught the first time they acted inappropriately. More often than not, these men left behind a trail of victims, fearful people too ashamed to speak out. I hope we are reaching a point in our society where children, teenagers, and women can, without fear of recrimination, stand tall and expose religious predators for who they really are.
About Bruce Gerencser
Bruce Gerencser, 60, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 39 years. He and his wife have six grown children and eleven grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist. For more information about Bruce, please read the About page.
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This is the one hundred and second installment in The Sounds of Fundamentalism series. This is a series that I would like readers to help me with. If you know of a video clip that shows the crazy, cantankerous, or contradictory side of Evangelical Christianity, please send me an email with the name or link to the video. Please do not leave suggestions in the comment section. Let’s have some fun!
Today’s Sound of Fundamentalism is a video clip of two supporters of Fundamentalist Alabama Justice Roy Moore sharing their “love” for transgenders.