Roy Moore, Culture Wars, and Culture Shift

Fair disclosure: I am neither convicting nor exonerating Roy Moore. As I assess this situation, I am irritated with Moore on certain matters, while skeptical of the accusations.

In his defense:

(1) The timing is suspicious.

(2) Gloria Allred. Any time she inserts herself into a scandal, I get skeptical of whoever is making the accusations.

(3) The accusers have what appear to be significant holes in their stories. The latest accuser appears to have produced a forged “yearbook signing” by Moore, which–if authentic–would debunk his contention that he did not even know her. Others are working for the DNC in some form or another.

(4) The fact that he did not have sex with them–not even Monica-style–is huge. Fact is, given his reputation, he could have made a move on any of those women, and they likely would have gone along. That he kept it in his pants reflects an uncommon level of restraint.

(5) He appears to have asked the parents of the gals for their permission to date them. That is not predatory behavior.

OTOH, Moore is in a pickle, at least partially of his own creation, for one serious reason: his pursuit of gals who were on the bubble of adulthood–while being in his 30s–is, fairly or unfairly, creepy by today’s standards.

If I were the father of a teenage gal, and a 32-year-old man asked me for permission to date her, my answer would be a firm-but-polite no. Not because he is a bad person, but because the maturity gap simply is too wide. If she were in her early 20s, I’d grill him and–if he measured up–allow him to date her.

Unfortunately, what we are seeing is the unfolding of a multi-front war, featuring the Old South versus the New South, particularly old-school Fundamentalism versus newer Christianity. The confluence of these elements could not have come at a worse time.


When we refer to Fundamentalism, I am not referring to the Fundamentals–Biblical inerrancy, Deity of Christ, Virgin Birth, Substitutionary Atonement, Resurrection from the dead, and eventual Second Coming–but rather the “cultural Fundamentalism” that defines many conservative sectors. Those include:

  • Homeschoolers who use materials published by Gothard, Phillips, or Pensacola;
  • People who are members of the Independent Fundamental Baptists (IFB);
  • Hyper-Patriarchal families who adhere to an “Umbrella” theology;
  • Those who harbor racialist sentiments, potentially empathizing with the KKK;
  • KJV-only adherents;
  • Hard Calvinists.

Many in those sectors are proponents of marrying their daughters off at a young age. At face-value, that isn’t a bad idea: given that fertility begins to wane in the late 20s, it is within their best interests to marry sooner into adulthood rather than later.

The problem is that many are taking this too far: marrying them off in their mid-teens (sometimes 14), rather than early adulthood. And in these cases, mere age difference hardly tells the story. At 42, I married MrsLarijani, who was 14-and-a-half years my junior. She was 28 and had been out of college for four years. If I were 32 and she was 18 or under, that would have been iffy at best.

So when a West Point grad and Vietnam veteran like Roy Moore–at 32–pursues gals who are 16 and potentially younger, it ought to set off red flags.

At the same time, given the cultural backdrop–late 1970s, a country at war with itself, with the Sexual Revolution in full throttle–it is understandable that someone like Moore, an old-school culture warrior, would want a younger gal who had minimal baggage in order to marry and start a family.

And given that he asked the parents of the gals for permission to date them, that is what you expect in a gentleman of the Old South. Those do not appear to be the actions befitting a predator.

At the same time, a fair number of conservative Christians in the South are seeking to divorce the South from what are often seen as backward customs.

  • While they may not oppose Patriarchy, they don’t subscribe to “Umbrella Theology” either.
  • They may support younger marriage, but aren’t thrilled with borderline “child brides”.
  • They aren’t into heavy drinking–and they may even be teetotalers–but they don’t buy into the farce that Jesus merely turned water into grape juice.
  • They aren’t thrilled with the fact that many churches in the South have “family jewels” that include everything from sexual abuse to lynchings.

Compounding matters, the Church is in the midst of a slew of sexual abuse scandals encompassing NeoCal and Fundamentalist circles, including the defamation of victims and the failure to defrock those proven to be offenders.

No serious Christian–who pays attention to these things–wants to be on record for enabling a predator.

Against the 1970s backdrop, it is understandable as to why Moore would have desired a younger woman to marry.

Against today’s backdrop, it is understandable as to why a Christian would look at Moore’s actions in the 1970s and have serious reservations.

Compounding matters, the mainstream media–the “drive-bys”–are clearly grasping for any straw they can find to hit Moore.

Ultimately, someone is not telling the truth. Either Roy Moore is lying, or his accusers are lying. In the absence of hard evidence–stained dresses, receipts, phone logs, voice messages, sex tapes–it’s their word against his.

I can totally understand why one would be skeptical of Moore; I can also understand why one would be skeptical of his accusers.

Unlike Trump, Moore is flying the God-and-country banner. If he’s a creep, then he is, at best, the hard-fundamentalist hypocrite father on Footloose. If he’s innocent, then his accusers are as phony as the Duke Lacrosse accuser.

Which way should you vote in this election? That’s your call. If it were me, I’m on the bubble, although I’m extremely skeptical of his accusers. I do, however, want him to address the accusers in specificity.

If he’s innocent, he needs to keep fighting.

If he’s guilty, he needs to get out.

11 thoughts on “Roy Moore, Culture Wars, and Culture Shift

  1. These stories would have been worth $100,000 to $500,000 back in the 90’s or early 00’s. National Enquirer would have paid.
    But nobody was selling then.
    So why now?
    Who is “Ray Moore” and why did he sign the yearbook in two different colors of ink, with two different pens?

    If this is all that can be found in Roy Moore’s background – unlike BJ Clinton, unlike Dennis Hastert, unlike Joe Biden, unlike a lot of others who went to Epstein’s “Lolita” island, unlike those who spent time at Hollywood parties with the likes of Weinstein, then maybe Roy Moore is not blackmailable…and that’s a real problem for the party.

    Maybe he can’t be controlled with blackmail, unlike so many other politicians, and that is why these allegations have surfaced now, with less than a month until the special Alabama Senate election. Something to ponder.

    • At this point, this is a non-sex scandal.

      I’m not believing the “yearbook signing.” Aside from two different inks, and other inconsistencies in the handwriting, Who leaves a date when he signs a yearbook?

      I have a couple yearbooks from back in the day. Lots of people have signed my yearbooks, and I signed my share over the years. Not once did I sign it and leave a date.

      This is looking quite curious, and you have to wonder what is behind all of this.

  2. Amir,

    This has nothing to do with the guilt or innocence of Roy Moore, but it is interesting that he was a part of the Christian Patriarchy Movement for a while, and even gave financial support to Doug Phillips:

    http://www.slate.com/blogs/xx_factor/2017/11/14/fundamentalist_homeschoolers_are_one_group_of_roy_moore_allies_who_think.html?wpsrc=sh_all_dt_fb_top

    I just wish there would be an investigation into this instead of people making up their own minds on the basis of limited facts. The flood of accusations of vague things like “sexual harassment” and serious things like rape and sexual molestation being made by women all over the country concerning big name celebrities and politicians is starting to look like the Salem Witch Trial accusations. You almost wish you could put off the election for several months until you can have a fair trial, and all of the facts can be presented to a jury. However, the fact that he was part of the Patriarchy movement is disturbing, as that movement has a theology that seems to breed this kind of abuse. The polls say he is still ahead in Alabama, but the Republican National Convention has pulled their support for him, and virtually all Republican leaders have called on him to drop out of the race unless he can refute these allegations. It will get interesting, for sure!

    • I’m not surprised that he was into the Christian Patriarchy movement, nor am I surprised that he once supported Phillips. Conservative folks in those circles probably would have many among them who were devotees of Phillips or Gothard. It wouldn’t surprise me if he was cozy with the Quiverfull crowd, even if he didn’t himself practice that.

      As for whether he groped or abused or threatened the women in question, I don’t know. I see no hard evidence, and–from what I’ve seen, there is a case for why one may be skeptical either way.

      I think he has some explaining to do, although–politically–the saying (Atwater’s Law) goes, “If you’re explaining, you’re losing.”

      Personally, I would not be surprised if he wins. The way this has come down, it is stoking backlash among conservatives in Alabama, as they see this as a case of outside meddling.

      The problem, though, is that Moore is potentially guilty of something. If he wins and the allegations are proven to have veracity, he may end up going the way of Packwood.

  3. Looking back, I’m not sure this is entirely a matter of the Old South or fundamentalist, patriarchal Christianity. Overall societal attitudes toward teenagers and underage sexuality have changed dramatically over the last 30-35 years.

    When rock legend David Bowie died almost two years ago, he was lauded for his creativity and innovation. But some writers also denounced him as a sexual abuser for taking the virginity of at least one underage rock groupie in the 1970’s. Few eyebrows were raised then but standards are different today. There’s no way a rock star could get away with such conduct, at least without facing some serious legal and professional consequences.

    Also, Brooke Shields launched her acting and modeling career by performing in some salacious movies and photo shoots as a teenager in the late 1970’s and early 1980’s. I seriously doubt the roles she performed back then would be considered acceptable today, even by Hollywood’s perverse standards.

    Getting back to Roy Moore, it seems that even Steve Bannon and Sean Hannity are having second thoughts about supporting him. It remains to be seen how the people of Alabama will react, although the latest polls show the race tightening. Stay tuned.

    • I’m referring more to the cultural influences that are at work, particularly among Christians, in the background. There is an undercurrent of old-school Patriarchy advocates who have no problem with marrying off a 14-year-old girl or even a 15-year-old girl. That was a lot more acceptable in those ranks 40 years ago than it is today, however, even if they still wish to marry them off when they are younger rather than older.

      As for Moore, I see it as them asking themselves, “What if he is guilty?” No one wants to be on record coming down on the side of a predator. And it is within Moore’s best interests to explain, on record, his dating relationships in the 1970s and what he did (or didn’t do) in those days. He can address that in deliberative fashion, but he ought to do it.

      As for the election, I’m thinking you’re going to see the mother of all backlashes. Moore will win.

      But if any of his accusers have hard evidence–I have my doubts about the “yearbook signing”–then he’s going to have a problem. He may end up going the way of Bob Packwood.

  4. I would also say that the media has a big role to play in all of this. American trust in the media is at an all time low, and the manipulative nature of the media is becoming quite apparent. I think you have to separate out [hard as it may be] the ethics of the media’s behavior in all of this with the ethics of Roy Moore’s behavior in all of this. I was thinking of James Comey reopening the case against Hillary Clinton so close to the election. I never quite felt right about it then. The question is, unless someone’s life or safety is in danger or there is a national security issue, is it moral or ethical for the media or anyone else to bring up allegations this close to an election? I am not talking about is it moral and ethical in regards to Roy Moore. I am questioning whether it is moral or ethical in regards to the Republican Party, its donors, or the people of Alabama. There simply isn’t enough time for a thorough investigation to take place so the people of Alabama can know all of the facts. I think what frustrates them and [rightly] angers them is that the facts in this case are being filtered through the left-wing biased media, and there is no time to get to the bottom of these accusations with anything deeper than what the media has already given us – regardless of whether Roy Moore is guilty or innocent. And, yes, I would say the same thing if this were done to a Democratic candidate. The problem with “bombshells” like this this close to an election is that it forces people to react instead of acting wisely on all the facts.

    That is why I think what is necessary is a thorough investigation, and hence, necessary that these kinds of accusations, baring someone’s life or safety being threatened or a national security issue, should not be made before an election unless there is enough time to investigate it thoroughly prior to an election. After the election, if someone wants to bring forward charges, they are, again, free to do so, and there should be an investigation, and if he is guilty, an impeachment followed by another election.

    I say this totally apart from Roy Moore’s guilt or innocence. It is entirely possible that Roy Moore *and* the media has behaved unethically or that only the media has behaved unethically. Still, I think that the behavior of the media in this is something that no one is talking about, but that I am utterly and completely appalled by, and have been since it seems like finding a woman willing to accuse a Republican candidate of sexual misconduct close to an election is the MO of the media. Remember that they did the same thing with Donald Trump and Ted Cruz as well. It is turning into a circus, and, while I certainly want to allow that such accusations can be made even against a high profile candidate, there needs to be enough time for justice to be done. The whole reason why I think the media’s behavior in this is dirty is because there is no time for that, and all the information is filtered through the lens of the left-wing media. *That* is simply immoral.

  5. God succeeds in spite of our flaws not because of our goodness and perfection. Lets pray that whatever mess the church is in. In the south that God ensures that his truth prevails whatever the odds.

    Prayer and fasting is what is needed for ourselves for whatever sins we have done and for the sake of his body that is currently going to go through a hard time. God help us all.

    May all our errors be corrected. And may we come to knowledge of truth. We should petition our father to set things right especially in our current circumstances.

    Put not our faith in man but trust in God.

    • Not just stupid people; manipulative people. I’m talking old-school IFB Fundamentalism here.

      When a wife disrespects her husband, it is bad for the whole house, as she is like the foolish woman of Proverbs. That is also true for the husband who is abusive with his wife, as Paul warns the men in Ephesians.

      But what I am talking about is similar to what you see with Headship Theology: the uber-Patriarchal overstretch that both (a) incentivizes abuse–because if a husband is responsible for the sins of his wife and his children, then he has a marginal incentive to “control” everything–and (b) deprives women of the basic dignity of responsibility, as nothing is ever their fault, and, worse, (c) disincentivizes accountability among the Body.

      This is why Jack Hyles was able to get away with a mountain of affairs and abuses, and also why his wife was able to be silent about everything–even when her own son had affairs and possibly committed murder–and go on to enjoy the good life when her husband died.

      He was never accountable to anyone, and–once he was gone–neither was she.

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