On the eve of the hotly contested special U.S. Senate election in Alabama tomorrow, a group of 80 protestant ministers from all over the state has taken the highly unusual step of publishing an open letter telling voters not to support Republican candidate Roy Moore because he is “not fit for office.”
“It is our belief that in light of Roy Moore’s extremist beliefs,” states the letter, “his patterns of behavior and the recent allegations against him, no person of faith can, in good conscience, support him or his religious nationalism.”
While the ministers state they are speaking personally, and not for their church or congregation, it is notable many of them come from Moore’s own Baptist background.
More than 80 Alabama pastors sign on to open letter about Roy Moore https://t.co/3rifJEF1pe
— Andrea Clenney (@IBeANewsie) December 11, 2017
The pastors are clearly offended that Moore uses his religion to sell himself to voters when his history and views are contrary to what they believe Christianity represents.
“He and politicians like him have cynically used Christianity for their own goals,” says the letter. “But Roy Moore does not speak for Christianity, and he acts in ways that are contrary to our faith.”
The clergymen note that their concerns about Moore go beyond the charges by a number of women of sexual harassment of teenage girls.
“Christianity affirms God’s love for the neighbor and care for the most vulnerable in society: the widow, the foreigner, and the orphan,” says the letter. “But he has denigrated people from other countries and other faiths.”
“He opposes the expansion of Medicaid which would provide basic healthcare for 400,000 poor and working Alabamians. He seeks to deny the most basic civil rights of our fellow citizens.”
“He has used racial slurs and casually referred to state-sponsored violence against lesbian and gay families.”
“Kindness and justice toward widows, orphans, and foreigners are priorities in the Bible but they are not priorities for him.”
The letter does not go into detail about Moore’s years ago seeking to date girls as young as 14, and aggressively going after other young women who had not yet reached majority age, but the message is clear about the clergymen’s disgust with his actions.
“Christianity abhors sexual coercion and violence,” says the letter.
“We repudiate the actions of religious and political leaders like Roy Moore who have sought to silence, to cover up, and to be complicit in the sexual abuse,” adds the letter. “These actions reopen wound of anyone who has been abused by leaders who should have been committed to compassion, to justice and to healing God’s world.”
“It is beyond indefensible to use religion to shield one’s self from allegations of pedophilia and sexual abuse,” concludes the pastors.
In calling Moore unfit for office, the pastors make clear it is not just about his unacceptable sexual history, but also about his more recent extremist positions, including his anti-LGBTQ and anti-Muslim bigotry, anti-choice extremism, and his contempt for the rule of law.
The letter says each person must vote as they see fit but adds that in their opinion “no person of faith can, in good conscience, support him or his religious nationalism.”
“He has done harm to our government;” continues the letter, “he has done harm to ur Christian witnesses; and he has done harm to vulnerable people.”
This letter is important because it gives the lie to Moore’s contention that he represents the Christian point of view and has the support of all religious people in a state known for being more religious than most others.
Moore’s wife also released a letter from about 50 ministers who support her husband, but she did not mention that it was an old letter, and many of those who signed now repudiate Moore and want no part of him or his campaign.
Roy Moore & his wife literally took an old letter of support by 53 pastors, and forged it to make it seem like he was still supported AFTER the allegations of sexual assault on minors came out.
So far, multiple people named in the letter have demanded they be removed from it. pic.twitter.com/rj1AsrHjbO
— covered with the blood (@NannetteGordon3) December 11, 2017
The real letter denouncing Moore, just written, sends the message that what Moore has done and what he stands for is not in keeping with the mainstream, even among churchgoers, and that he cannot claim the moral high ground when his views and actions make him a national embarrassment.