The Hypocrisy of Conservative Christians: Protecting Roy Moore
By Kate Harveston
Jim Zeigler lives down to every possible stereotype that probably springs into your head when you read the phrase “Alabama State Auditor.” Of Roy Moore, the embattled candidate for an Alabama U.S. senate seat who’s apparently had sex with a few minors, Zeigler had this to say:
“Take Joseph and Mary … Mary was a teenager and Joseph was an adult carpenter. They became parents of Jesus.”
Consider for a moment that grown adults in America are still quoting the Bible — which condones at regular intervals various forms of torture, rape and murder — to justify behavior. Any behavior. And then add the fact that the behavior being justified is sexual contact with minors.
That, in a nutshell, is modern Christian-Conservative politics in America. We’ve begun to conveniently package a host of terrible behaviors in a wrapper called “Alt-Right,” but the problems are actually much older than that particular Urban Dictionary entry. Hypocrisy has been mainstream at the intersection of Christianity and politics for a very, very long time.
The Party of the “Moral High Ground”
There’s really only one way for anybody to prove they own the moral high ground in a given debate: it’s to live your values proudly and demonstrate to the world that they can function well enough in the real world to serve as a guide for the rest of our ethics.
For thousands of years, we’ve been trusting Christianity with the moral high ground. Voters in Alabama have been trusting it too, or else a man like Moore — who has a long history of publicly flouting civilized definitions of sexual propriety — wouldn’t have had a job for as long as he has. It’s probably fair to say that most of his supporters so far believed in him, to a significant degree, because he associated himself with the Christian Church and the Republican Party. They didn’t feel they had to look any closer than that.
Therefore, it’s very clear that we need a new litmus test for a more civilized and secular age, because self-identifying as a Christian has become a conspicuously poor indicator of the quality of a person’s character.
We All Politicize Sex
Some folks are still worried about the types of sex practiced between consenting adults in America. Most of those same folks are comfortable with equal rights, including marriage, being dispensed unequally. This open hostility toward human beings who do not identify as heteronormative is practically unique to American Christianity in the developed world. It also lies at the heart of the Republican Party’s hypocrisy surrounding Roy Moore and his apologists.
Conservative Christians and Alt-Righters alike busy themselves year-round with what consenting adults get up to behind closed doors, claiming human sexuality is within the purview of both gods and governments and that there is a universally “right” and “wrong” way to go about enjoying it. Yet, as soon as one of their own is discovered to have behaved “unconventionally,” the sexual politics of Christians becomes conveniently unassailable — totally off the table — because of “religious freedom.”
As in: they derive moral instructions only from their religious texts and not from the laws of our land.
But as we’ve already established, quoting the Bible to establish moral credibility is a fool’s errand. The fundamentally indefensible does not magically become defensible merely because somebody’s god” says it’s okay.
But Conservative politicians need us to believe Christianity owns the moral high ground because they need voters who don’t ask questions — not about their leaders’ sexual propriety nor about anything else of consequence. Conservative politics wields Christianity like a weapon in America. Men like Roy Moore, in laying bare their hypocrisy, accidentally threaten the entire perilous house of cards.
Christians, Too, Are Victims of a Broken Election System
Pointing this out may not win me any friends, but in America circa 2017, there is no voting bloc that stands more fixedly or proudly between America and real social progress than modern Christians. Most of the “problems” they worry over hard enough to galvanize themselves into “single-issue” voters are cosmically tiny in significance. Global climate change doesn’t care about who marries whom.
Let us, after all this time, have a real wall between religion and politics. There are far bigger fish to fry.
The other detail that makes the Roy Moore “situation” even more exasperating and perplexing is this: it doesn’t merely reveal how broken modern Christianity is. It’s also an indictment of everything about the election system in America.
It is almost a certainty that most practicing Christians in America don’t approve of Roy Moore, his behavior or the folks who rushed to his defense. Most of them probably wish there was a party system in America which did not require the American Church to make a devil’s bargain with the Republican Party year after damned year in their quest to keep seats “red” instead of “blue” after elections.
Is it even conceivable that there’s a god out there who’s petty enough to care about marriage “sanctity” or keeping Senate seats Democratic or Republican — or awful enough to smile on sex with minors? Like it or not, every last one of us have helped turn the idea of “God” into something paltry and divisive, and now we have to live with it. It helps to have a punchable face like Moore’s to tilt our lances at, but he’s a symptom of a much older disease.