Our modern political era can easily be traced back to a single heinous decision: when the newly-resurgent fundamentalist movement within Christianity decided to seek political power through an alliance with the Republican Party. The Rev. Dr. Randall Balmer, a historian and Episcopal priest, gave a concise and well-researched presentation on the history of this movement that is well worth viewing.
The Moral Majority has been defined by its rigid defense of one particular sexual ethic. For over forty years now, pastors have taken to the pulpit and warn their flocks about the dangers of the Gay Agenda™ and women’s rights. In the 1990s, these same leaders decried one Bill Clinton for repeated allegations of sexual harassment and an affair with a White House intern. Bill Clinton’s actions, these pastors said, disqualified him from holding elected office.
In 2016, these very same pastors were presented with a presidential candidate who bragged about committing sexual assault. Donald Trump has reveled in his numerous affairs and he faces at least one law suit for sexual harassment. The Moral Majority has embraced Donald Trump like it has no other president — not George W. Bush, not Ronald Reagan, and certainly not the famously devout Jimmy Carter.
At the same time, the continued revelations about #ChurchToo have revealed the Church’s moral failings when it comes to sexual abuse. “Young, restless, and Reformed” Christians have gone out of their way to defend CJ Mahaney for ignoring sexual abuse within Sovereign Grace Ministries. Co-architect of the Southern Baptist Convention’s fundamentalist take over was forced from power after covering up rape on a seminary campus; Paige Patterson was invited to give a series of sermons at a recent gathering in Alabama and used it as an opportunity to keep discussing women’s bodies. Patterson’s co-conspirator in the fundamentalist take-over has been repeatedly accused of sexually abusing young men.
The Church can disagree over many things. We can debate points of biblical interpretation and ecclesial polity. We can disagree over matters of fiscal and foreign policy and how those issues pertain to the Gospel. We can even differ on points of sexual morality.
Where the Church cannot compromise, though, is that acts of sexual violence are evil. Such a sin must be condemned in the strongest possible ways.
We should not be surprised that these pastors, who have so repeatedly shown their true colors, are willing to sell out survivors of sexual assault for political power.
As the Senate weighs whether or not to confirm Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court, these pastors are power brokers. They have access to the White House and to many key Republican senators. That’s what this decades-long deal was supposed to be about: power and access. And so these self-styled faith leaders, who have spent years talking about the importance of sexual ethics, who spent the 90s decrying Clinton’s sexual morality but have not seen fit to abandon President Trump, could easily demand a full investigation into accusations of attempted rape leveled against Brett Kavanaugh.
They have not.
Instead, this brood of vipers has hemmed and hawed the same way they did after then-candidate Donald Trump boasted about his ability to sexually assault women.
A lot of pastors have warned about the dangers of false accusations. Russel Moore, one of the few Southern Baptist leaders to maintain anything resembling a spine, said:
I am looking forward to an open hearing. Obviously, if it did happen, that would be disqualifying. Obviously, if this did not happen, it would be a horrible thing to wrongfully accuse someone of doing.
(This is a much-beloved excuse among leaders in the Moral Majority, but the best research on the topic reveals that only 2-10% of accusations are false. To say nothing of the fact that Dr. Ford raised these concerns with her therapist more than half a decade ago when there would be no reason to lie about a little-known judge.)
Franklin Graham questioned whether or not attempted rape is a crime:
Well there wasn’t a crime that was committed. These are two teenagers and it’s obvious that she said no and he respected it and walked away–if that’s the case but he says he didn’t do it. He just flat out says that’s just not true. Regardless if it was true, these are two teenagers and she said no and he respected that so I don’t know what the issue is. This is just an attempt to smear his name, that’s all.
(Attempted rape is, in fact, a crime. The specific accusation is that Kavanaugh did not walk away when Dr. Ford told him no; he did not “walk away.” A crime of that nature is immediately disqualifying for any elected office.)
One has to wonder why not ask for an FBI investigation, for a delay in votes. After all, there is no major harm in holding off on a confirmation vote. After Antonin Scalia died, the Supreme Court went more than a full year with only eight justices — at the insistence of every single Republican senator. Surely it is worth a short delay if it means keeping an attempted rapist off the court.
Why the rush?
Ralph Reed gives up the game. Once again, this is not about the Gospel or about the well-being of abuse victims or the good of the country. It’s a crazen push for political power. Reed says:
One of the political costs of failing to confirm Brett Kavanaugh is likely the loss of the United States Senate. If Republicans were to fail to defend and confirm such an obviously and eminently qualified and decent nominee then it will be very difficult to motivate and energize faith-based and conservative voters in November.
These men are not faithful pastors or leaders of the Church. They are wolves in shepherds’ clothing who would sell out their flock to gain the world.