The number of conservative Christian pastors, writers and politicians who have gone on record to denounce Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore appears to be growing by the day.
At least five women said publicly that the former judge known for his conservative Christian principles pursued romantic relationships with them when they were teenagers, and two of those women have accused Moore of sexual misconduct.
Soon after the allegations surfaced in a Washington Post report Thursday, Republican establishment leaders, such as former GOP presidential nominees Mitt Romney and Sen. John McCain (R.-Ariz), called for the Steve Bannon-endorsed politico to leave the race. By the start of this week, so had some well-known figures in evangelicalism, one of the most influential identity groups within the Republican Party.
But some have asked why it took sexual misconduct claims against Moore for those who often campaign on their faithful commitment to morality to speak out against him.
Erick Erickson, a conservative Christian media figure, wrote Tuesday that ongoing support for Moore may be detrimental in the long run for Christians:
“At a deeper level, the allegations are disturbing and credible and putting someone in the Senate with that hanging over him is of questionable prudence that would all but eliminate the GOP's ability to be taken seriously on the matter of harassment, assault, and indecent behavior. Moore in public office, with that level of ineptitude in his ability to defend himself right now would just be used by others to harm both Christians and conservatives in politics.”
But some evangelicals are standing by Moore, with one conservative Alabama official using Biblical references to Jesus's birth to seemingly excuse the allegations against Moore — a misinterpretation of scriptures that some conservative Christians pounced on.
They may recall another scripture in the Gospel of Mark, where Christ said: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” It's considered to be one of Christianity's greatest commandments.
If the misinterpretation of the Bible is of such great concern to some Christians, then evangelical leaders — and voters — should have spoken out against Moore months, if not years ago. Moore has made comments deemed as racially and culturally insensitive, Islamophobic and homophobic, which can also be seen as contradictory to Jesus's instructions.
Here's a look at some of the things Moore has said:
1. “Homosexual conduct should be illegal.” While most white evangelicals do not support same-sex marriage — only about a third support it — most Christians in America, 54 percent, now say that homosexuality should be accepted rather than discouraged by society, according to the Pew Research Center.
So far Moore's comments that homosexuality should be illegal have not drawn comment from single GOP elected https://t.co/nAxZb1oF45
— andrew kaczynski (@KFILE) October 25, 2017
2. He referred to Native Americans and Asians using racial slurs. “Red” has historically been a slang term for Native Americans. Some view it as so offensive that there's been a movement to rename sports teams that incorporate the term into its mascots, such as the Washington Redskins. “Yellow” is a derogatory term for East Asians that was common in the late 1800s among the white working class in California, who feared Asian immigrants would take their jobs.
Moore's campaign doubled down, explaining that his words came from the song “Jesus Loves the Little Children.”
3. Sept. 11, 2001, may have happened “because we’ve distanced ourselves from God.”
During a February speech, while discussing the terrorist attacks, Moore quoted verses from the Old Testament's Book of Isaiah.
4. Rep. Keith Ellison should be prohibited “from taking the congressional oath.” The idea that Ellison, the first Muslim elected to Congress, should not be able to be in Congress because of his faith seems to contradict Moore's claim to have voted for President Trump out of concerns for religious freedom.
Southern Baptist leader Russell Moore previously warned that allowing the government to restrict Muslims could lead to restrictions on Christians.
“Sometimes we have really hard decisions to make — this isn't one of those things,” Moore said. “What it means to be a Baptist is to support soul freedom for everybody.”
5. Reporter: “You're not aware of what dreamers are?” Moore: “No.” Moore appeared to be uninformed on the latest issues related to Trump's decision to reverse the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.
The Rev. Samuel Rodriguez, president of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference, spoke out against the inhumanity of president's decision.
“For far too long in this country, Hispanic young people have been the political bargaining chips of our powerful politicians,” he said. “This is an affront to the sanctity of life, it is inhumane, and the Hispanic community will stand for it no longer. Our elected members of Congress have time and again professed concern for the Hispanic community and yet have chosen to do nothing. We will not distinguish between Republicans and Democrats but between those who stand for righteousness and justice and those who do not.”
Despite all of these statements, Moore enjoyed endorsements from some high-profile Christians.
Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson, a conservative Christian, was the only member of Trump's Cabinet to endorse Moore during the Alabama GOP primary, according to Axios, calling him “a fine man of proven character and integrity, who I have come to respect over the years.”
“He is truly someone who reflects the Judeo-Christian values that were so important to the establishment of our country,” he added.
But the retired neurosurgeon and former Sunday school teacher appeared to walk away from that support Monday with a statement through his spokesman. “The Secretary believes any man that assaults any woman is unfit for public office,” the statement said.
Conservative Christians have often framed themselves as the moral guides of the country's future in terms of policy, including sexual ethics, and have accused their political opponents of promoting ideas and policies that would be harmful for America.
In an interview with CNN after someone using Sen. Ted Cruz's Twitter account appeared to 'like' a porn account, the evangelical politician retorted: “The media and the Left seem obsessed with sex” when answering a question about his previous decision to defend a Texas law that bans the sale of sex toys.
Katelyn Beaty, former managing editor of Christianity Today, previously told The Post that one reason evangelicals didn't support Hillary Clinton is because of her husband's past indiscretions.
“Hillary is still associated with her husband’s affairs and held in contempt for her husband’s behavior, even though you would think a woman staying with her husband would be praised,” she said, noting that they ignored similar behavior from Trump.
With their preferred Senate candidate facing serious allegations of sexual misconduct, conservative Christians have been given an opportunity to show Americans what priorities they consider most important. Will they choose politics or principle with Moore?