|Moore last month at the Ultra-right "Christian" so-called Value Voters Summit|
Beginning several decades ago, the leadership of the Republican Party made the cynical decision to welcome Christofascists and evangelical Christians into the party grass roots. Initially, the thought was that these unwashed, ignorance embracing voters and activists could be controlled bu the so-called GOP establishment. The leadership could not have been more wrong and now the GOP has morphed into a party dominated by (i) Christian extremists who reject science, knowledge and anything else that challenges their unhinged version of Christianity and (ii) white supremacists, many of whom also fall under the evangelical Christian label. I exited the GOP long before the second element of the new party base became overt. With the growing equating of the GOP with evangelical Christians, the GOP finds itself tied to morality issues tied to the evangelicals, including a preference for "young marriage" wherein older men marry girls still in their teens. The practice ties in with the evangelical belief that women are meant to be subservient to men and also allows such men to train young, unworldly and inexperience girls to their will. A piece in the Los Angeles Times by a woman who escaped evangelical Christianity looks at this disturbing practice which the growing accusations against Roy Moore illustrate. Here are column excerpts:
We need to talk about the segment of American culture that probably doesn’t think the allegations against Republican Senate candidate Roy Moore are particularly damning, the segment that will blanch at only two accusations in the Washington Post expose: He pursued a 14-year-old-girl without first getting her parents’ permission, and he initiated sexual contact outside of marriage. That segment is evangelicalism. In that world, which Moore travels in and I grew up in, 14-year-old girls courting adult men isn’t uncommon. I use the phrase “14-year-old girls courting adult men,” rather than “adult men courting 14-year-old girls,” for a reason: Evangelicals routinely frame these relationships in those terms. One popular courtship story that was told and retold in home-school circles during the 1990s was that of Matthew and Maranatha Chapman, who turned their history into a successful career promoting young marriage. Most audiences, however, didn’t realize just how young the Chapmans had in mind until the site Homeschoolers Anonymous and the blogger Libby Anne revealed that Matthew was 27 and Maranatha was 15 when they married. Libby Anne also drew mainstream attention to Matthew Chapman’s writings, in which he argued that parents should consider marriage for their daughters in their “middle-teens.” At that point the Chapmans stopped receiving quite so many speaking invitations. “Duck Dynasty” star Phil Robertson advocated for adult men to marry 15- and 16-year-old girls and deemed age 20 too old because “you wait until they get to be 20 years old, the only picking that’s going to take place is your pocket.” Home-school leader Kevin Swanson, whose 2015 convention was attended by several Republican presidential candidates, defended Robertson on his radio show after the story broke. Advocating for child marriage hasn’t slowed down Robertson’s career. As a teenager, I attended a lecture on courtship by a home-school speaker who was popular at the time. He praised the idea of “early courtship” so the girl could be molded into the best possible helpmeet for her future husband. The girl’s father was expected to direct her education after the courtship began so she could help her future husband in his work.
In retrospect, I understand what the speaker was really describing: Adult men selecting and grooming girls who were too young to have life experience. Another word for that is “predation.”
Much of the sexual abuse that takes place in Independent Fundamentalist Baptist, or IFB, churches involves adult men targeting 14- to 16-year-old girls. If caught, the teenage victim may be forced to repent the “sin” of having seduced an adult man. . . . . In the wake of the Schaap case, numerous other stories emerged of sexual abuse cover-ups involving teenage girls at IFB churches. In another high-profile case, pregnant 15-year-old Tina Anderson, who was raped by a church deacon twice her age, was forced to confess her “sin” to the congregation. Growing up, I witnessed an influential religious right leader flirting with some of my teenage friends and receiving neck and shoulder massages from one of them. I’ve been expecting a scandal to break with him for years, but in the meantime, this man has put significant time into campaigning for anti-trans bathroom bills while deeming trans people “predators.”
The allegations against Roy Moore are merely a symptom of a larger problem. It’s not a Southern problem or an Alabama problem. It’s a Christian fundamentalist problem.
The evangelical world is overdue for a reckoning. Women raised in evangelicalism and fundamentalism have for years discussed the normalization of child sexual abuse. We’ve told our stories on social media and on our blogs and various online platforms, but until the Roy Moore story broke, mainstream American society barely paid attention. Everyone assumed this was an isolated, fringe issue. It isn’t.
The hate, lunacy and sexual hypocrisy of evangelical Christians needs to be exposed. But do not expect the Republican Party to do the right thing and reject individuals like Roy Moore and his evangelical supporters. As a piece in CBC News notes, the GOP has put itself in an impossible situation which, long term, bodes ill for the future of the GOP. Here are a few highlights:
"Forget losing this seat, which is the short-term problem," says Real Clear Politics Senior Elections Analyst Sean Trende. "Given the long-term problems the GOP face, this is exactly the story they don't need." The "long-term problem" Trende has in mind was evident Tuesday, when Republican Ed Gillespie lost among voters under age 45 by more than 20 points.Older, white voters — particularly white men — are supporting the GOP in record numbers. But their percentage of the voting-age population is shrinking. Republicans can't win without them, but they can't win with just those voters, either. Candidates like Roy Moore who literally wave guns at their campaign rallies and rail against same-sex marriage are sending a message to these voters that he's on their side. But it's not a message resonating with the next generation.
To win today, the GOP needs the populist/Trump wing of the party energized. But the outcome in the Virginia elections showed those voters alone aren't enough. Virginia's Ed Gillespie actually outperformed Trump among white, blue-collar voters, but still lost badly. The GOP needs to attract a more diverse pool of voters.
Sohow the charges -- "if proven" -- are so awful that Moore should withdraw from the race, while knowing that proving charges like these from 40 years ago is nearly impossible.
It may well just be politics, but it's getting the GOP no closer to solving the problem embodied by Moore -- that dumping him alienates the base they need today. Keeping him alienates the voters they need tomorrow.