Former Alabama Chief Justice and US Senate candidate Roy Moore speaks at a rally in Fairhope, Alabama. AP Photo
A group of 87 Baptist pastors and other religious leaders in Alabama have condemned the sexual abuse, assault, harassment and exploitation of women at the hands of men in power in the wake of sexual misconduct allegations against Republican candidate for U.S. Senate Roy Moore.
Last week, the pastors released a statement “prompted by the amount of victims of sexual abuse, assault, harassment and exploitation within the past several weeks coming forward with their accusations against persons (predominantly men) in positions of power and authority.”
“As ambassadors of the Gospel of Jesus Christ in this fallen world,” Baptist pastors wrote. While they didn’t specifically mentioned Moore, they resolved to “pray for and seek opportunities to minister to victims of sexual abuse in the name and healing grace of Jesus Christ and to continue to uphold the honor, dignity, and respect of all people, both males and females, as image-bearers of God.”
Moore, a 70-year-old former Alabama supreme court judge, faces multiple accusations of sexual misconduct with teenage girls, including one involving a 14-year-old, when he was in his early 30s.
Signer Rev. Mat Alexander, pastor of the First Baptist Church Gadsden – a church in Moore’s hometown – told the New York Times: “None of us felt like – especially when this was being written – that we are able to speak yea or nay to his guilt; there’s not clarity on that right now. But what we can say very clearly is that these things are not consistent with the gospel of Jesus Christ. Our churches will be safe havens for victims.”
Moore has since denied the accusations and indicated he has no intention of stepping aside.
“It seems that in the political arena, to say that something is not true is simply not good enough,” he said. “So let me be clear. I have never provided alcohol to minors, and I have never engaged in sexual misconduct. As a father of a daughter and a grandfather of five granddaughters, I condemn the actions of any man who engages in sexual misconduct not just against minors but against any woman.”
In a statement on Saturday, he called for his supporters to fight back against “the forces of evil who are attempting to relegate our conservative Christian values to the dustbin of history.”
Still, a number of Republicans in Washington – including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, House Speaker Paul Ryan and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz – have also urged Moore to step down due to the allegations.
When asked on Monday if she thinks Alabamans should vote for Moore regardless of the accusations, Trump spokesperson Kellyanne Conway said that “we want the votes in the Senate to get this tax bill through.”
She also accused the media and Democrats of hypocrisy, claiming that both had gone easy on Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) who has also been accused of sexual misconduct and harassment.
“If the media were really concerned about all of these allegations and if that’s what this is truly about, and the Democrats, Al Franken would be on the ash heap of bygone half-funny comedians. He wouldn’t be here on Capitol Hill. He still has his job,” she said.