Many have believed the accusations against Roy Moore of sexual assault and harassment against teen girls to be massively hypocritical since for years he’s presented himself as a hardcore evangelical man of faith, and he has a loyal white Christian evangelical following.
But what if Moore’s alleged actions actually meld with a religious belief among some evangelicals, even if the adherents won’t outright admit it?
Moore in fact represents an extremist wing of an already theocratic-leaning base of the GOP that believes all women must be subservient and submit ― as Mike Huckabee, who hasn’t pulled his full-throated endorsement of Moore, infamously once said of women with regard to their husbands, expressing his own “Handmaid’s Tale” dream come true ― and that would no doubt include young women such as teen girls. After all, as one of Moore’s defenders in the Alabama GOP said in dismissing the allegations, “Mary was a teenager and Joseph was an adult carpenter. They became parents of Jesus.”
And since the advent of Donald Trump, this more extreme group of evengelicals has cleaved away from others and joined the alt-right and white nationalists, led by former Trump White House advisor Steve Bannon ― who is a front line warrior for Moore’s election campaign ― and which include white supremacists and racists like those we saw in Charlottesville.
Jack Jenkins, senior religion reporter at Think Progress, has been charting the growth in the Trump era of Christian nationalism ―the melding of some evangelicals and their beliefs with nationalistic movements and ideologies ― in several excellent and important articles. He, too, puts Roy Moore at the nexis of the white nationalist movement and the extremist evangelical movement.
As someone who has covered the Family Research Council’s annual Values Voters Summit (VVS) for years, I, along with other observers, saw a marked difference in the speakers and in the crowd this past October, when Donald Trump became the first sitting president to speak at the event. Some long-time leaders like those from the Southern Baptist Convention ― whose Russell Moore is a Never Trumper ― were not there, along with their followers. They were replaced by Steve Bannon, Sebastian Gorka and other white nationalists and their followers who never had an interest in VVS and are far from what anyone would think of as devout Christians.