SALT LAKE CITY — All eyes were on white evangelicals in the weeks leading up to Alabama’s Dec. 12 special election. Would these “values voters” stand by a man accused of pursuing teenage girls while in his thirties?
The answer, according to exit polls, was yes. But when the race was called for Democrat Doug Jones, religious commentators were asking a different question: Why didn’t we hear more about the religious voters who contributed to the unexpected outcome: black evangelicals?
“I think we’ve been hypnotized by white evangelicals,” said the Rev. Mike McBride, a black pastor who helped get out the black vote in Alabama by visiting churches and universities. “We must appreciate what black churches and the black Christian religion have contributed” to the moral conversation.
Exit polls showed that 95 percent of black evangelicals voted for Jones, a former U.S. attorney known for prosecuting members of the KKK. They responded to his promise to address poverty and mass incarceration and, more importantly, rejected his competitor’s slights against their community, the Rev. McBride said.
Alternatively, 8 in 10 white evangelical Christians voted for Roy Moore, a former state Supreme Court judge who was twice removed from the bench for refusing to remove a monument to the Ten Commandments from the court building and defying federal orders to enforce the legalization of same-sex marriage. Some didn’t believe the sexual misconduct allegations Moore faced, while others felt it would be more ethically problematic to vote for Jones, who supports abortion rights, analysts said.
Brynn Anderson, AP
White evangelicals fit the established definition of values voters, casting their ballots with opposition to abortion and same-sex marriage in mind. But Alabama’s special election shows that there are other values voters who shouldn’t be overlooked, who focus on issues like diversity and violence against women, said Michael Wear, who led religious outreach for President Barack Obama’s 2012 re-election campaign.
“The idea used to be that it was Republicans who really…