Former Alabama chief justice Roy Moore’s run for the U.S. Senate is a dream come true for many Religious Right activists, and they aren’t letting allegations that Moore pursued sexual relationships with teenage girls when he was in his 30s get in the way of their support for him.
While some conservative activists, such as the Family Research Council’s Tony Perkins, are hedging their bets by saying that the allegations against Moore would be disqualifying “if true,” others have blindly accepted Moore’s denials and are demonizing his accusers and the media, specifically The Washington Post, which first reported on the accusations.
Moore’s allies at Breitbart News have been all-hands-on-deck to run interference for their candidate and try to dig up dirt on his accusers. The conservative Sinclair Broadcast Group used a local Alabama TV station it owns to defend Moore.
The American Family Association stood by its endorsement of Moore, writing in a statement, “AFA Action believes Justice Roy Moore to be a truthful man and a solid Christian.” Bryan Fischer, a radio host for AFA’s American Family Radio, wrote that establishment Republicans were turning against Moore because they “despise ordinary Americans like us who believe in the Ten Commandments, natural marriage, normative sexuality, right and wrong, the Constitution as written by the Founders, the rule of law, and the Judeo-Christian tradition of truth claims and moral values.”
AFA president Tim Wildmon 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.”
Jerry Falwell Jr., one of President Trump’s strongest allies in the Religious Right, told RNS, “It comes down to a question who is more credible in the eyes of the voters — the candidate or the accuser.” He later clarified that he believed the candidate.
Liberty Counsel’s Mat Staver also stuck by Moore, telling RNS, “Having personally known Roy Moore and his wife of 32 years, Kayla, I know him as a man of integrity who respects women.”
Anti-choice activist Janet Porter wrote in WorldNetDaily that she trusts Moore in part because he doesn’t think her “heartbeat bill,” which would ban abortions as early as six weeks into pregnancy, goes far enough. Porter laid out her theory that Washington Post owner Jeff Bezos encouraged the paper to manufacture accusations against Moore in order to bring him profits. “Not sure who to vote for?” she wrote. “Just look at who the enemy is firing at the hardest. He’s the guy you want.”
Operation Rescue’s Troy Newman told Rewire that he stood with Moore “110 percent” against this “typical far-left baloney” and “absolutely ridonkulous” allegations.
Gordon Klingenschmitt wrote in an email to supporters that he supports Moore “now more than ever,” listing various allegations about Moore’s accusers that have been bubbling up in the far-right internet:
First of all, I believe his word over some lying women, considering that…
a) some of them admittedly campaigned for Hillary Clinton and endorsed Doug Jones
b) some of them were allegedly offered money for their false reporting
c) one of them also falsely accused three pastors of the same misconduct
d) none of them have reported a crime, every committed by Roy Moore, not even now.
Extremist anti-choice activist Matt Trewhella, another endorser of Moore’s, wrote on Facebook that the accusations against Moore were “evil” and told Christian men who are judging Moore: “I know you live in a nation that wants you to believe all men are pigs and women never lie – but here’s a little insight I have learned over the years – all men are not pigs and yes, women lie.”
William Gheen, the far-right anti-immigration activist behind Americans for Legal Immigration PAC, wrote in an email to supporters, “Our endorsed candidate Roy Moore is besieged by the proven socialist liars at the Washington Post and by GOP globalists like Mitch McConnell, all of whom are trying to throw the special election on Dec. 12 to the Democrat over unprovable sexual innuendos from the 1970s! They prefer a pro-Amnesty Democrat Roy Moore because Moore opposes their plans to pass DACA Amnesty by Christmas!”
Perhaps the smartest take came from far-right activist Dave Daubenmire, who wrote on Facebook:
Update: Moore’s wife, Kayla, released a letter in defense of Moore from 50 pastors. The signers include Moore’s longtime supporter Michael Peroutka and Peroutka’s colleague David Whitney, both of whom have been active in the neo-Confederate League of the South. The letter concludes: “We are ready to join the fight and send a bold message to Washington: dishonesty, fear of man, and immorality are an affront to our convictions and our Savior and we won’t put up with it any longer. We urge you to join us at the polls to cast your vote for Roy Moore.”
Update 11/14/17: ThinkProgress’ Jack Jenkins reports that “at least four pastors have since come forward to say they did not consent to having their names included in the letter” circulated by Kayla Moore. “What’s more, at least one is raising questions about whether it is an edited version of a different endorsement list used during the primaries—before the abuse allegations came to light.”
UPDATE 11/15/17: AL.com reports that four pastors have asked for their names to be removed from the recycled letter. We also went back and compared the signatories on the original endorsement letter and the version that Kayla Moore posted on Facebook on Sunday, and found that all of the signatories were the same except for one addition to the later letter: Peroutka. As well as not living in Alabama, Peroutka is not a pastor.