Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore’s claims that he did not date or have sex with underage girls when he was in his thirties ring especially false in light of revelations about a subculture within the evangelical Christian community – of which Moore belongs – who actively seek out 13, 14, and 15-year-old girls to date who they can marry and shape to be a suitable mate.
Moore, a lawyer and former chief judge on the Alabama Supreme Court, has been on the defensive since The Washington Post revealed that he had dated at least one 14-year-old girl when he was 32-years-old. He has refused to quit as the Republican in the Senate race to fill the seat that was held by Jeff Sessions until he became Trump’s Attorney General.
While the idea of a man that age dating such a young girl strikes most Americans as abhorrent and illegal, there are those in certain sects of Christianity who not only think it is acceptable but actually, encourage it – which puts Moore’s activity into context – and make his weak denials seem even more unbelievable.
That is according to an Op-Ed published in the Los Angeles Times by Kathryn Brightbill, now a legislative analyst for the Coalition for Responsible Home Education, a non-profit that advocates for the interests of home-schools children.
Brightbill writes that she grew up being homeschooled in a family that was part of the Christian evangelicalism movement, where “14-year-olds courting adult men isn’t uncommon.”
“I use the phrase ’14-year-old girls courting adult men,'” she explains, “rather than ‘adult men courting 14-year-old girls’ for a reason: Evangelicals routinely frame these relationships in those terms.”
“That’s how I was introduced to these relationships,” she adds, “as a home-schooled teenager in the 1990s, and it’s the language that my friend’s and I would use to discuss girls we knew who were in parent-sanctioned relationships with older men.”
In fact, the only thing Moore did that was offensive, from the point of view of this Christian cult-like group, is that he failed to get permission from the girl’s father and that he had sex with the girl – if he, in fact, did – prior to marriage.
“As a teenager,” writes Brightbill, “I attended a lecture on courtship by a home-school speaker who was popular at the time. He praised the idea of ‘early courtship’ so the girl could be molded into the best possible helpmate for her future husband.”
“The girl’s father was expected to direct her education,” she adds “after the courtship began so she could help her future husband in his work.”
Brightbill explains that is called “predation,” which means adult men sought out “girls who were too young to have life experience.”
She explains much of “the sexual abuse that takes place in Independent Fundamentalist Baptist, or IFB, churches involves adult men targeting 14-to-16-year-old girls. If caught, the teenage victim may be forced to repent the ‘sin’ of having seduced an adult man.”
Moore, according to his Pastor Tom Brown, has attended the First Baptist Church in Alabama for most of his life, an IFB congregation.
While American law, and conventional wisdom, is that the adult male is the one who is responsible for taking advantage of a girl who is too young to be blamed, this group of sicko’s turns that on its head, blaming the girl for seducing the older man, and making it impossible for him to turn her down.
That was the argument in an appeal filed by Jack Schaap, 56-years-old and married, who was the pastor of a 15,000-member downtown mega-church and president of Hyles-Anderson College in Indiana in 2014 when he was convicted of molesting a 16-year-old girl and was sentenced to 12-years in prison.
The girl had approached Schaap for counseling. She later wrote to the investigators that the pastor has “violated my trust. But when it was being violated, I didn’t even know it because he made me believe what we were doing was OK and right in the eyes of God.”
“When I asked him if it was wrong,” the girl wrote, “he told me no and that i was his precious gift from God. I felt so special when he texted me from the holy altar during his sermons”
When caught, it was learned that he texted her over 600 times.
His relationship was discovered when someone at the church saw pictures on his cellphone of Schaap kissing the young woman.
“He asserted that the ‘aggressiveness’ of his victim ‘inhibited (his) impulse control,” writes Brightbill.
A judge denied his appeal and he continues to serve his time in Ashland, Kentucky.
Schaap – and Moore – are far from the only adult men who sought out underage girls. There have been cases across the country, reports ABC News, citing one in New Hampshire where after a married pastor made a 15-year-old girl pregnant, he told her she was lucky because in the olden days she would have been stoned to death.
One of the most famous proponents points out Brightbill, is Phil Robinson, the bearded businessman, and hunter who was the leader of the clan on the A&E network show “Duck Dynasty,” who courted controversy after he said in an interview with GQ Magazine that homosexual behavior is sinful.
What Robertson, now 67-years-old, did not consider a sin was marrying a girl in her early to mid-teens, as he explained in a 2009 talk to a Georgia group called the Sportsman Ministry. He married his own wife when she was 15-years-old.
In a video that surfaced in 2013, Robertson advised men to marry teenagers: “Look you wait ’til they get to be 20-years-old, the only picking that’s going to take place is your pocket. You got to marry these girls when they are about 15 or 16. They’ll pick your ducks.”
“The allegations against Roy Moore are merely a symptom of a larger problem,” writes Brightbill. “It’s not a Southern problem or an Alabama problem, it’s a Christian fundamentalist problem.”
“Billy Graham’s grandson, Boz Tchividjin, who leads the organization GRACE (Godly Response to Abuse In a Christian Environment),” she adds,” believes that the sexual abuse problem in Protestant communities is on a par with that in the Catholic Church.”
“Women raised in evangelicalism and fundamentalism have for years discussed the normalization of child sexual abuse,” writes Brightbill. “We’ve told our stories on social media and on our blogs and various online platforms, but until the Roy Moore story broke, mainstream American society barely paid attention.”
“Everyone assumed this was an isolated, fringe issue,” adds Brightbill. “It isn’t.”
So when Roy Moore acts as if he would never date or have sex with girls not yet old enough to vote, let along graduate high school, he is denying the teachings of the church where he has gone most of his life, and the faith he so proudly extolls from the stump.
Moore is not only a sex offender by the letter of the law, but he is also part of a sickening cult-like group that exploits young women with the help of authority figures in their life, and their own parents in many cases.
If there is something to be learned from the revelations about Moore, it is that there has to be legal and society pressure on the Roy Moore’s of that world to stop seeking out young teen females, with or without help from their daddies, and to adhere to the standards of our civilized society.
There’s no questions Roy Moore does not belong in the U.S. Senate. The real and only question is whether he really belongs in prison where he can be Jack Schaap’s cellmate.
It is time to call on these self-righteous evangelical Christians who are so worried about women getting abortions to get their own house (of worship) in order, and to protect their own daughters from adult male predators who think if they can cook and carry a bible, that is enough of a life for them.
These people voted in a bloc to elect Donald Trump president, and it is too late to do anything about that. But their chosen candidate for the U.S. Senate from Alabama can still be stopped, and it is up to the good people of that state to right this terrible wrong – and then make sure others do not continue the same perverted practices in the future.