Roy Moore's "claim that the Senate race has become a religious war, and a Christian one at that, has put one group in an awkward position: Christians," say Campbell Robertson and Laurie Goodstein at The New York Times. On Sunday, pastors around Alabama refrained from discussing Moore, the Republican nominee in the Dec. 12 U.S. Senate race, but they've been asked about little else since a growing number of women came forward to say Moore initiated a physical relationship or sexually assaulted them when they were teenagers as young as 14 and he was in his 30s.
"It was a known fact: Roy Moore liked young girls," Faye Gary, a retired police officer in Moore's hometown of Gadsden, Alabama, tells the Times. "It was treated like a joke. That's just the way it was." Now it's out in the open, the allegations "have created a dilemma" for many pastors, Robertson and Goodstein write. "They want to denounce what Mr. Moore was accused of doing, but in many cases they want to do so without denouncing Mr. Moore himself," who's still supported by many in their congregations.
Some religious leaders in Alabama have openly denounced Moore, a Southern Baptist, and called him unfit for office. But most pastors "still endorse Moore, underlining the unwavering support he has received from his conservative Christian base," reports Christopher Harress at AL.com. Pastor David Floyd of Marvyn Parkway Baptist Church in Opelika said he doesn't "believe those women" and called the allegations a Democratic smear.
Pastor Franklin Raddish of the nationwide Capitol Hill Independent Baptist Ministries told AL.com from his South Carolina home that the accusations against Moore are part of a "war on men" that has ramped up with the national reckoning about sexual misconduct. "More women are sexual predators than men," he added, dubiously. "Women are chasing young boys up and down the road, but we don't hear about that because it's not PC." Peter Weber