Harvey Weinstein, Roy Moore, ‘Me Too’ and Christian Witness

In the wake of the Weinstein scandal and the viral #MeToo movement, Roy Moore has been accused of sexually assaulting teenage girls nearly 40 years ago. Yet, several prominent Christian voices have stood in defense of Moore’s actions, which may result in harmful consequences for Christian witness.

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Harvey Weinstein, co-founder of Miramax studios and award-winning film producer, became a figure of shame and scorn seemingly overnight as allegations of sexual assault and rape surfaced in The New York Times and The New Yorker in October. As more women stepped forward to accuse Weinstein of these heinous acts, he was subsequently expelled from professional associations and became the subject of several criminal investigations.

As a result of this scandal, in what others have coined the “Weinstein effect,” women around the world have been empowered to share their personal experiences of being violated sexually. Actress Alyssa Milano reignited a viral social media hashtag, #MeToo, which women have tweeted or posted on their social media accounts to publicize their experiences. A handful of celebrities and Christians have taken part in this movement to express solidarity and place an important spotlight on misogyny, objectification and sexualization of women in society.

In the wake of these watershed events, allegations surfaced that Roy Moore, a Republican nominee in the 2017 special election to fill a Senate seat in Alabama, had pursued or sexually assaulted teenage girls nearly 40 years ago. Moore, a professing Christian, has denied sexually assaulting a 14-year-old, a 16-year-old and pursuing other underage girls. Moore, twice elected to and twice removed from the Alabama Supreme Court, has continually denied these allegations.

While one can to stand back from the Weinstein and Moore scandals and see parallels between the two cases, it is startling to consider the different responses each respective scandal has received. While Weinstein has been removed from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, publicly denounced and withdrew to a facility to seek treatment, Moore has remained defiant as several prominent Christians have come to his defense.

Here is a look at what some Christians have said in defense of Moore, who they believe is more credible than his accusers. Others, such as Jim Zeigler, do not seem bothered by the allegations of pedophilia possibly being true.

Take the Bible. Zachariah and Elizabeth for instance. Zachariah was extremely old to marry Elizabeth and they became the parents of John the Baptist. Also take Joseph and Mary. Mary was a teenager and Joseph was an adult carpenter. They became parents of Jesus.

Alabama State Auditor Jim Zeigler told the Washington Examiner

It comes down to a question who is more credible in the eyes of the voters—the candidate or the accuser.… And I believe the judge [Moore] is telling the truth.

Jerry Falwell Jr., President of Liberty University, told Religion News Service

I don’t think this kind of story will change support for him among Christians since he has categorically denied it. Most will see it as dirty politics.

American Family Association President Tim Wildmon told Religion News Service

Of those surveyed in an October 14-16 poll by Fox News, before the allegations against Moore emerged, 20 percent of registered Alabama voters stated they supported Moore because of his Christian beliefs/values, and 48 percent said they strongly support Moore.

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According to a JMC Analytics Survey taken on November 9 and 11, while Moore has lost overall support in the Senate race, 29 percent of his supporters stated that they would be more likely to support him over the allegations, and 33 percent said the allegations make no difference to their support. The findings may reflect a 2016 study by the Public Religion Research Institute (PRRI) that found 60 percent of Americans believe “immoral personal behavior does not preclude public officials from carrying out their public or professional duties with honesty and integrity.”

Although some Christians have capitulated to party loyalties and question the veracity and legitimacy of Moore’s accusers, others have denounced the would-be senator and upheld the witness of these women. These voices have fought back against what David French at the National Review has called a “Creepy Christianity,” a fundamentalist-leaning offshoot of Christianity that has wedded politics and faith to the extent of disguising extremism, exploitation and abuse as “righteousness” and “holiness.”

[Zeigler’s] statement is so far beyond truth that it would be comical, if it wasn’t so offensive and, let me say, nearly blasphemous. My daughters are around that age and, I can assure you, we don’t think that 32-year-olds should have any romantic inclinations toward them.

However, the primary reason I am writing is that Zeigler appealed to the Bible. I want to be clear: this is neither an evangelical view, nor should the Bible be used in this way.

Ed Stetzer wrote for Christianity Today

Photo by marcoverch


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