Over the last 18 months, evangelical Christians have been asked how they could vote for a serial adulterer like Donald Trump while condemning the serial adulterer Bill Clinton as unfit for office. The general response has been: 1) Trump was certainly not our ideal candidate and we do deplore his past; but 2) he seems to have made some changes and is open to our input; and 3) it was either him or Hillary Clinton, and for the sake of the unborn, for the sake of our religious liberties and for the sake of our security, he got our vote.
Has this compromised our moral authority in the eyes of many Americans?
On the one hand, it certainly has. Our vote for Trump is thrown back in our face on a regular basis, and we are linked to anything he says or does that is distasteful.
On the other hand, it really has not, since we have been mocked and vilified and called hypocrites and haters for years now. Do we really think that if many of us did not vote for Trump, the society in general would be more open to hear our views about homosexuality and abortion? Hardly.
When it comes to Judge Roy Moore, we are being asked how any of us could not immediately recognize his guilt, since the mounting evidence against him seems overwhelming. Plus, we seem to believe the bad reports about Hollywood moguls , celebrities and left-wing politicians. Why the double standard here?
First, all of us have biases, conscious or otherwise, and it’s all too natural to defend people who are close to us and question people who are distant from us. For example, a devoted liberal Democrat would be far less likely to entertain an accusation against Barack Obama than against Ted Cruz. Conversely, a staunch conservative Republican would be much more likely to entertain an accusation against Obama than against Cruz.
This is reminiscent of the intense drama that unfolded when Anita Hill accused Clarence Thomas of crass and abusive behavior. Liberals rallied around Hill, and conservatives stood with Thomas.
As much as we try to avoid partisan emotions, it’s only human nature to have them, in which case we must always check to see if we’re even making the attempt to be unbiased. Are we? Do we do our best to ask critical questions? Do we give the presumption of innocence to all, even if our first reaction is to condemn those we don’t like? Do we weigh all accusations fairly?
Second, when it comes to Judge Moore, we’re not just dealing with the possibility of double standards. We’re also dealing with extreme skepticism toward left-wing media and extreme suspicion of the political system. So, what may appear to be an extraordinary display of hypocrisy, as conservative evangelicals stand by a man accused of abusive sexual contact with minors, may really be a display of distrust of the left.
Think back to the O.J. Simpson trial, which largely divided Americans between white and black. To many white Americans, the evidence against O.J. was absolutely damning, right down to his DNA all over the crime scene. How is it that so many black Americans didn’t see it? Were they ignorant? Did they wink at murder? Was it impossible to think that a black hero was guilty?
Not at all. Instead, they deeply suspected the legal system, from the police to the courts to the jails. They had witnessed unequal treatment under the law. They had seen people framed. They had seen the innocent convicted and the guilty set free, hence their deep-seated suspicion.
Today, with President Trump shouting out “fake news” on a regular basis and with millions of Americans agreeing, when a story starts with the Washington Post, red flags immediately go up. And when one of the most conservative senatorial candidates in decades comes under fierce attack right before the elections, a man with great loyalty among his followers, it’s very easy for some to question his accusers rather than sympathize with them.
As it stands, we are nearing the tipping point in the charges against Moore, with more accusers coming forward by the moment and with his supporters becoming more desperate. And it’s understandable why the Babylon Bee, a Christian satire site, posted an article titled, “Evangelicals Announce They Will Withdraw Support For Roy Moore Should Three Or Four Dozen More Women Come Forward.”
But before you condemn Moore’s Alabama supporters, and before you write off other conservatives who have stood with him, bear in mind that double standards are not the whole story (or, perhaps, even part of the story). Rather, there is extreme suspicion of the left and deep recognition of how many enemies someone like Judge Moore really has. And with some claiming there is clear evidence that the yearbook signature is a forgery, everything else becomes questionable.
For those on the left who think I’m trying to excuse the inexcusable – meaning, giving Moore any benefit of the doubt even for a moment – just ask yourself how you would have responded if Fox News and Rush Limbaugh claimed to have evidence of Barack Obama sexually abusing minors. To my readers on the left, what would your first reaction be?
We all agree that if the charges against Moore are true, then what he did is terribly ugly and evil, especially since he did so as a professing Christian and as someone in power. But let’s not get carried away with double-standard accusations right now, especially against conservative Christians in Alabama. There’s a lot more to the story that must be factored in.