I can hear a colleague of mine, in his great raspy voice, say “Wilson, be careful what you ask for. You just might get it.” Of course, he was right.
I am not an Alabamian. I have no vote in their upcoming special election to elect a Senator to the U. S. Senate. The primaries are over and there is a Republican and Democrat on the ballot. It can’t be changed. The election will occur and one of them will win unless there is a successful write in effort.
At a high level, this article will explore 2 issues:
- Some have a policy problem, in that Mr. Moore has twice refused to comply with orders from the Supreme Court and was removed from position on the Alabama Supreme Court. Despite that, he was elected by Republicans to fill the vacant seat in the U. S. Senate.
- Besides policy differences, some are very concerned that as a Christian, Mr. Moore seems to ignore Christian values and is hiding behind a victim response.
So we have spent much of the last week, in the political world, embroiled in the Roy Moore controversy. Many of my online friends have weighed in and I have commented where I could.
Earlier this month, the Washington Post reported that Republican Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore initiated a sexual encounter with 14-year-old Leigh Corfman when he was a 32-year-old district attorney.
The allegations: Leigh Corfman told the Washington Post that she met Moore in 1979 when she was just 14 years old. The then-district attorney offered to watch Corfman while her mother attended a custody hearing, she said, and he asked for her phone number when he was alone with her. Corfman said that days later, Moore drove her to his house and kissed her. During a second encounter, he allegedly took off her shirt and pants and touched her over her underwear and led her hands to touch him over his underwear. “I wanted it over with,” Corfman told the Post.
Moore’s response: “It never happened,” Moore said during an interview with Sean Hannity. “I don’t know Miss Corfman from anybody. I never talked to or never had any contact with her. Allegations of sexual misconduct with her are completely false. I believe they’re politically motivated.”
The Post investigation also quoted three other accusers who said that Moore pursued relationships with them when they were between the ages of 16 and 18.
Five other women have since come forward with their own allegations against Moore. The former Alabama state judge has denied the allegations and his campaign has vowed to stay in the Alabama Special Senate election. Moore’s wife, Kayla Moore, has also said her husband will not step down from the Senate race. That is a total of nine now, only four of them reported by the Washington Post.
All of this on top of public figures like Bill Clinton, Bill Cosby, Harvey Weinstein, Louis C.K., Kevin Spacey, and others have been accused of sexual harassment and assault. Then this week we learned about Senator Al Franken. As you would expect, there is now a second Al Franken victim coming forward.
If nothing else, the timing of all this is horrible for Mr. Moore. There seems to a national consensus now that none of this can be tolerated any longer and that victims are to believed.
Here is a pretty good summary of the nine accusers and Mr. Moore’s responses. I know of many who believe this is a conspiracy to deny Mr. Moore the election. Mr. Moore has also stated that Mitch McConnell and Republican establishment is out to get him. Below is from Mr. Moore’s Twitter account:
Al Franken admits guilt after photographic evidence of his abuse surfaces.
Mitch: “Let’s investigate.”
In Alabama, ZERO evidence, allegations 100% rejected.
Mitch: “Moore must quit immediately or be expelled.”
— Judge Roy Moore (@MooreSenate) November 16, 2017
A couple of observations:
- Before we even get to sexual assault issues, there seems to be a significant policy problem with his 2 removals from the Alabama Supreme Court. Personally I believe Mr. Moore was wrong in not upholding Supreme Court rulings. In these cases, I don’t particularly agree with the Supreme Court but the rule of law must prevail. That is what we sign up for in this country. His removal from office was justified and this should be a serious warning sign to his being elected to a Federal position in the Senate.
- On January 15, 2001, Roy S. Moore was sworn in as chief justice of the Alabama supreme court. He promised to “support the Constitution of the United States, and the Constitution of the State of Alabama” and to “faithfully and honestly discharge the duties” of his office. Although Moore had been elected to a six-year term, he would be removed from the bench in 2003 for failing to remove a 5,280-pound granite monument of the Ten Commandments in the State Judicial Building that he had erected. A federal trial judge ruled that Moore violated the First Amendment’s imperative that government “shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion.”.
- Alabama voters restored Moore to the chief justiceship in 2012, but once again he would not finish his term. This time the issue was gay marriage. Like many, including myself, Moore feels Obergefell v. Hodges was wrongly decided, but he, further, believed that the Constitution does not require Alabama to recognize same-sex unions legalized by the decision. As in his fight over the Decalogue monument, Moore thought his opinions entitled him to disregard federal court orders. This time he went even further, publicly declaring his resistance to Obergefell and instructing state probate court judges to follow suit, even after federal courts issued orders against Alabama officials. Moore again denied the authority of federal courts, and again the Alabama judicial inquiry commission cut his term short.
- I don’t believe Mr. Moore is a victim. In his response to Leigh Corfman allegation, “It never happened,” Moore said during an interview with Sean Hannity. “I don’t know Miss Corfman from anybody. I never talked to or never had any contact with her. Allegations of sexual misconduct with her are completely false. I believe they’re politically motivated.” This is a consistent reaction. Mr. Moore, and Mr. Moore alone is responsible for his behavior. The true victims deserve to be heard just as he has a right to defend himself. Alabamians will decide if the accusations are relevant to the upcoming election.
- Are the accusers credible? It is hard to know. There are an awful lot of them and there are very consistent themes among them. The don’t seemed to have conspired or colluded among themselves. As I mentioned earlier, we have come to understand that accusers are to be believed absent any apparent reason not to. Of course there false accusers. They are usually easily ferreted out. Consider Tawana Brawly, the Duke Lacrosse player accusers and the Rolling Stone debacle as examples.
- Mr. Moore is a self professed follower of Jesus. Being a follower of Jesus, it is relevant to consider the higher issue of character. Without getting into quoting lots of scripture, Jesus clearly challenges us to love God, our neighbors and even our enemies. Mr. Moore is consistently demonstrating a complete lack of love for his enemies or even the slightest level of remorse for what might be legitimate misunderstandings from long ago. There is a high road, the way of Jesus, that compels us as followers of Jesus to be different. At some point it is not about politics but as followers of Jesus, are we exhibiting the love he challenges us to exhibit, even to our enemies? Jesus challenges us to be different. So far, there doesn’t seem to be any evidence that Mr. Moore gets that. There are many alternatives to attacking your accusers. Here are two examples below. Agree and settle is one. Be silent is another. Loving your enemies will probable surface more ways to move forward.
- “You don’t have to be a genius to understand these things. Just use your common sense, the kind you’d use if, while being taken to court, you decided to settle up with your accuser on the way, knowing that if the case went to the judge you’d probably go to jail and pay every last penny of the fine. That’s the kind of decision I’m asking you to make.” ~Jesus (Luke 12:57)
- When Jesus appeared before his accusers he stayed quiet, “Jesus didn’t answer—not one word. But the high priests and religion scholars were right there, saying their piece, strident and shrill in their accusations.” (Luke 23:8-10)
This is all so very sad. It doesn’t seem like it is going to end very well for anyone. If elected, Mr. Moore will carry around this sordid badge of dishonor. The times have radically changed in the last few years. It doesn’t appear that is well understood how much so. I don’t think it is going away and none of it will favor Mr. Moore, whether he likes it or not. Victims have decided, with a great deal of courage, to speak up. Abusers are finding it difficult to count on shame and silence to win the day.
I’m afraid I and other followers of Jesus aren’t speaking up. To validate my sense of things, I called and talked to a Saint to get some insight on this. The Saint is my oldest sister. She is a mighty woman of God. I won’t go into why she is a Saint but trust me she is. She happens to live right across the border from Alabama in southwest Georgia. She tells me people of God down there believe that Mr. Moore should step down.
On a final note, if on a policy issue, you want to say that “the paramount goal of my political effort is to end the abominable human toll of abortion, and my conscience requires me to vote for the candidate who brings this country closer to that goal . . . ” well, it would be a little easier to understand.
Jones: I am a firm believer that a woman should have the freedom to choose what happens to her own body, and I’m going to stand up for that, and I’m going to make sure that that continues to happen. I want to make sure that as we go forward, people have access to contraception, they have access to the abortion that they might need, if that’s what they choose to do.
Todd: You wouldn’t be in favor of legislation that said “ban abortion after 20 weeks,” or something like that?
Jones: No, I’m not in favor of anything that is going to infringe on a woman’s right and her freedom to choose. That’s just the position that I’ve had for many years, it’s the position I continue to have.