Christians, Moral Hazards, and Roy Moore

“The entire time, all the girls are lying?” the man shouted, right before he was escorted out of the event. “Why would they lie?” ....Pastor: “I would remind everyone,” he sniffed, “that this is a worship service.” One could laugh, or cry, or marvel at how much this strange episode eerily resembles a cut-rate, mawkish cable-TV stereotype of a benighted Southern church. National Review

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Aaron Blumer's picture

EditorAdmin

Why would anyone think that a campaign speech by any candidate is appropriate in a worship service, much less a seriously morally tainted candidate. On top of that, what kind of confusion is required to think that backing a candidate in a worship service is more fitting than challenging a candidate about his conduct?

Backwards, upside down, and inside out.

Views expressed are always my own and not my employer's, my church's, my family's, my neighbors', or my pets'. The house plants have authorized me to speak for them, however, and they always agree with me.

TylerR's picture

Editor

Yes, this was a worship service - Americana Civil Christianity at its best.

Tyler is a pastor in Olympia, WA and works in State government.

Bert Perry's picture

I'm no fan of Moore, as he's been a blowhard since his "10 Commandments monument" days, but the place for Christians to step up is, in my mind, to adhere to normal rules of evidence.  You have some very politically convenient allegations coming right as the GOP can not replace their candidate--and so whether other evidence corroborates or rejects the claims is a big deal here. 

In this case, while I think Alabamians screwed up royally by selecting Moore over Strange in the primaries, they're right to note that it is in fact meaningful that Leigh Corfman had problems before meeting Moore, had only 12 days in which to interact with him before moving to her dad's house, and lied about having a phone in her room.  They are also right to note that it's meaningful that Gloria Allred is not providing access to that yearbook, and that the head of mall security noted no banning of him from the mall.

So those allegations are politically convenient, and where they can be checked, they're not checking out except for that Moore apparently liked to, with parental consent, date teen girls when he was in his thirties.  Bad candidate, yes, icky practice, yes, but nowhere near as salacious as billed.

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

Aaron Blumer's picture

EditorAdmin

The rules of evidence are mainly for the courtroom. Though I'm not for declaring a man "guilty" without strong evidence, there is a much lower standard for "tainted" and "highly questionable," categories that don't exist in the courtroom. Further, in order to prevent oppression by government and law enforcement, all kinds of conditions exist that allow evidence to be suppressed because it wasn't obtained in exactly the right way. The court of public opinion could stand to be more rigorous, to be sure, but it certainly doesn't dismiss evidence on the grounds that it wasn't obtained properly... nor should it, really. Nor does it care how long ago creepy acts occurred when deciding if someone is a creep.

There's alot of inconsistency and hypocrisy, of course, but that doesn't have any bearing on what's true and right either.

If he was any kind of statesman, Moore would have withdrawn from the race weeks ago. Then again, if the GOP was anything like a party of principle, it would not have given him any choice.

Views expressed are always my own and not my employer's, my church's, my family's, my neighbors', or my pets'. The house plants have authorized me to speak for them, however, and they always agree with me.

Ron Bean's picture

This comment by Matthew Henry regarding Isaac and his wells in Genesis 26 is good advice although it goes against human nature:

Note, We should deny ourselves both in our rights and in our conveniences, rather than quarrel: a wise and a good man will rather retire into obscurity, like Isaac here into a valley, than sit high to be the butt of envy and ill-will.

Yes, I sent it to Roy Moore.

"Some things are of that nature as to make one's fancy chuckle, while his heart doth ache." John Bunyan

Jay's picture

TGC had a terrific article about this the other day as well.  I find these sections particularly worth some careful reflection:

There were plenty of sound political reasons for conservatives to reject Judge Moore. He has a history of violating legal ethics (he was twice removed from Alabama’s Supreme Court) and a blatant disregard for the Constitution. He was so unqualified for the U.S. Senate that even the leader of his political party, President Trump, refused to endorse him in the Republican primary.

Then came the credible allegations that during his time as an assistant district attorney he had inappropriate relations with teenagers, including sexually assaulting a 14-year-old girl. That should have been enough to tank his candidacy.

If Judge Moore were a Democrat the citizens of Alabama would have chased him out of the state and into Tennessee. Because he’s a Republican, though, some pastors not only defend him; they even allow him to speak from the pulpit...

Some people believe that Moore is innocent of the allegations made against him. Others simply don’t care if they are true or not.

And this section on consequentialism was also thoughtful.  

What Borland is really advocating is consequentialism, the view that whether an act is morally right depends only on the consequences of that act or of something related to that act. Borland makes this clear when he says that critics of Moore (and Trump):

. . . fall prey to what philosophers call a reductio ad absurdum, an argument that reduces itself to absurdity. If one can’t vote for someone who is better (that is, less bad or less evil) or who is equally bad but has better policies, then one should opt out of politics and the voting process altogether! But since that’s not the case, the #Never_____ position fails. It’s that simple.

Note that Borland considers the idea of not voting to be an absurdity. Even faced with two immoral candidates he believes we must choose one over the other. Why? Because of the bad consequences that might come about if we don’t vote for the candidate who supports our preferred policies.

If this sounds like a familiar argument, it’s because Christians have used it for decades to vote for pro-abortion candidates. They claim it’s better to choose candidates who support one’s views on a number of pertinent issues even if they support a grave evil (i.e., abortion) over which they have almost no direct influence (because no single politician can overturn Roe v. Wade).

"Our task today is to tell people — who no longer know what sin is...no longer see themselves as sinners, and no longer have room for these categories — that Christ died for sins of which they do not think they’re guilty." - David Wells

Aaron Blumer's picture

EditorAdmin

Jim wrote:

The senators generally vote in lockstep (example the tax vote early this morning). An "R" vote is better than a "D" there 

This kind of tactical focus is why we're in this mess. A large swath of conservatism has decided that all that matters is winning legislative votes or judicial appointments. But all that is ultimately vain if conservatives don't win people over to conservative principles and values. At best, after winning a few votes, the electorate swings wildly back in the other direction in reaction to the repulsive human beings the GOP keeps putting in power -- along with the erosion of the base due to basically becoming a party that has no principles or values anymore, only rhetoric.

It's like trying to transform people by imposing rules. You can only restrain a bit that way. There is no substitute for belief, commitment, and -- I hate to overuse the term, but there isn't a good alternative -- values.

When a movement destroys its ethos in hopes of winning a few battles it loses the war. Every time.

Views expressed are always my own and not my employer's, my church's, my family's, my neighbors', or my pets'. The house plants have authorized me to speak for them, however, and they always agree with me.

Bert Perry's picture

Keep in mind here that the allegation is not the proof.  We conservatives need to remember the October surprises that were leveled against President Bush--accusations that were so badly put together that it took entire minutes for people to discredit them as having come from Microsoft Word and no typewriter in use at the time.  Remember?

And in this case, where the stories being told about Moore are being checked, they are generally being found wanting.  No ban from the mall, no phone in Corfman's room, only two weeks between when the girl met and she was in her father's home, and the yearbook evidence is so bad, Gloria Allred won't let it be examined.  To put it bluntly, defense attorneys start to salivate when they see goofs like this, and prosecutors start prepping the witnesses for a brutal time on the witness stand.

No argument that we need to take moral problems seriously, but if we simultaneously do not take the rules of evidence seriously, the left is going to take us to the cleaners every.last.time.  We know from hard experience--Robert Bork, Bush's October surprises, this--that questions of basic truth and ethics do not seem to trouble the left.  Hence our rule should be distrust, verify, and distrust some more, when salacious accusations like this come up.

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

Jay's picture

Aaron's post makes me want to stand up and cheer out loud.  Thanks for sharing! 

"Our task today is to tell people — who no longer know what sin is...no longer see themselves as sinners, and no longer have room for these categories — that Christ died for sins of which they do not think they’re guilty." - David Wells

Larry's picture

Moderator

This kind of tactical focus is why we're in this mess. A large swath of conservatism has decided that all that matters is winning legislative votes or judicial appointments.

That's all that matters to them? I am not sure how you can make such a claim. It sounds rather hyperbolic. Is there charitable room for those who think that the future is more important than the present and that the group is more important than the individual, and who, based on the application of wisdom, might make a choice differently than you would?

But let's assume that you are correct, that we should vote solely based on character and morality. Where does that leave us? And what will we say to the our children and grandchildren who live under the consequences of those choices in the legislative and judicial rulings that are passed down because of our choices? 

Bert Perry's picture

Larry wrote:

This kind of tactical focus is why we're in this mess. A large swath of conservatism has decided that all that matters is winning legislative votes or judicial appointments.

That's all that matters to them? I am not sure how you can make such a claim. It sounds rather hyperbolic. Is there charitable room for those who think that the future is more important than the present and that the group is more important than the individual, and who, based on the application of wisdom, might make a choice differently than you would?

But let's assume that you are correct, that we should vote solely based on character and morality. Where does that leave us? And what will we say to the our children and grandchildren who live under the consequences of those choices in the legislative and judicial rulings that are passed down because of our choices? 

Given that the GOP had a number of decent candidates in the primaries who were not on their third wife or seventh bankruptcy, I would have to assert that there is a core of Republicans for whom all that matters is winning.  We can quibble about how big the group is, but it exists, really.  There is also a core of Democrats who only care about winning--they kept Clinton in office after l'affaire Lewinsky.

The same people illustrate how we can apply character as a test.  OK, Trump DID cheat on his first two wives, and his businesses did go bankrupt a few times.  In contrast, his opponent in the general election covered for her husband's repeated cheating by heading his "bimbo eruptions" team and came close to personal bankruptcy due to those condoned adulteries leading to perjury, obstruction of justice, sexual assault, and more on the part of her husband.  She also escaped prosecution for her role in Whitewater (not just a civil lawsuit; prosecution)  by what appears to be deliberately hiding her records from the Rose law firm.

Now I'm at a loss to decide who is worse there, except to remember that Mrs. Clinton promised to keep taxing me to pay for dismembering pre-born babies.   Now I respect the decision of many to not hold their nose and pull the lever for Trump, but it's a spectacular illustration of how character can be applied in this matter.  And really, I think we ought to make more moral arguments based on policy as well.  What is the moral justification, for example, for taxing a minimum wage worker at Burger King so that the lawyer coming through the drive through can get a discount on his Prius or Tesla?  What is the moral justification for having the guy sweeping the floors at the local steel warehouser pay for the owner's windmills?  What is the moral justification for taxing families where Mom stays at home to pay for daycare for those who make different choices?

We won't get perfect, but we just might get further.

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

Mark_Smith's picture

In contemporary politics things are so polarized there is no choice but to pick the lesser of two evils. In the 2016 election, there was no real choice other than Trump. Clinton would have been a total disaster.

As for Moore, the other guy Jones I think, is a total died in the wool socialist Democrat who is pro-abortion, same-sex marriage, etc. How can you vote for someone other than Moore given the present reality that NO ONE can get on the ballot other than Moore and Jones?

Jay's picture

The same people illustrate how we can apply character as a test.  OK, Trump DID cheat on his first two wives, and his businesses did go bankrupt a few times.  In contrast, his opponent in the general election covered for her husband's repeated cheating by heading his "bimbo eruptions" team and came close to personal bankruptcy due to those condoned adulteries leading to perjury, obstruction of justice, sexual assault, and more on the part of her husband.  She also escaped prosecution for her role in Whitewater (not just a civil lawsuit; prosecution)  by what appears to be deliberately hiding her records from the Rose law firm.

I am so, so sick of "yeah, our candidate is bad but theirs is worse..."

Sick. To. Death.

"Our task today is to tell people — who no longer know what sin is...no longer see themselves as sinners, and no longer have room for these categories — that Christ died for sins of which they do not think they’re guilty." - David Wells

Bert Perry's picture

Jay wrote:

<my stuff snipped>

I am so, so sick of "yeah, our candidate is bad but theirs is worse..."

Sick. To. Death.

Every election is that way, Jay.   Romans 13 makes clear that the central point of having a king at all is moral issues, and in a republic or democracy, our central point as electors is to figure out which candidates will be the best, or the least hazardous, in that office.  You look at the moral components of the candidates and their platform--what they will do and whether their character suggests they will do it well--and make your best guess.  In a world stained by sin, that's really the only thing we can do until the sinless King reigns, no?

It's ickier today, yes, and some of the reasons why include that we're willing to name sins today that (for example) Nixon wasn't willing to name about Kennedy in 1960, we've got a habit of believing accusers without checking their stories, and the always brutal science of politics has gone up a notch.  But if you read political cartoons from the late 1800s, you'll see pretty quickly that it's not as new as we'd think.  Or, for that matter, read about the death of Cicero, which was basically a Mueller investigation on steroids.

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

Mike Harding's picture

Why didn't the accusers come forward during the primaries in Alabama?  More than likely they would have prevented Moore from getting the senate nomination.  Looks like a political calculation on their part.

Pastor Mike Harding

Joel Shaffer's picture

Probably the better explanation is the #MeToo campaign, which gained steam after the Weinstein/Hollywood sex scandal was the hot news somewhere in the middle of October.  Whereas Roy Moore won the primaries  Sept. 26th, which was 3 weeks earlier.  Women across the country have felt emboldened to speak out against those who preyed on them, including Roy Moore (if the allegations are true).   What's interesting is that the woman that accused Moore of sexually molesting her when she was 14 has been a life-long Republican voter and even voted for Trump.  And when the Washington Post showed they really do fact-check and scrutinize stories of sexual abuse against public figures such as Moore when they exposed the conservative media watch-dog Project Veritas, who was trying to bait them with a lady with a false story of how Moore impregnated her at the age of 15, the liberal conspiracy that Moore has alleged against him since he was first accused began to fall apart.  When it comes to politics the danger for us conservatives is that our political bias reveals that we only see/expect depravity/sin-nature in those who are progressives/liberals, which leads us to functionally deny Romans 3:10.