About a month ago, just after the Roy Moore scandal broke wide open, his wife Kayla posted on Facebook a letter of support signed by 50 Alabama pastors. It said, “We urge you to join us at the polls to cast your vote for Roy Moore.”
Dear friends and fellow Alabamians,
For decades, Roy Moore has been an immovable rock in the culture wars — a bold defender of the “little guy,” a just judge to those who came before his court, a warrior for the unborn child, defender of the sanctity of marriage, and a champion for religious liberty. Judge Moore has stood in the gap for us, taken the brunt of the attack, and has done so with a rare, unconquerable resolve.
As a consequence of his unwavering faith in God and his immovable convictions for Biblical principles, he was ousted as Chief Justice in 2003. As a result, he continued his life pursuit by starting the Foundation for Moral Law, which litigates religious liberty cases around our Nation. After being re-elected again to Chief Justice in 2012, by an overwhelming majority, he took another round of persecution for our faith as he stood up for the sanctity of marriage between one man and one woman.
You can know a man by his enemies, and he’s made plenty — from the radical organizations such as the Southern Poverty Law Center and the ACLU to the liberal media and a handful of establishment politicians from Washington. He has friends too, a lot of them. They live all across this great State, work hard all week, and fill our pews on Sunday. They know him as a father, a grandfather, a man who loves God’s Word and knows much of it by heart, a man who cares for the people, a man who understands our Constitution in the tradition of our Founding Fathers, and a man who deeply loves America. It’s no wonder the Washington establishment has declared all-out war on his campaign.
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.
In your service,
Dr. Tom Ford, III, Pastor, Grace Baptist Church, Montgomery, Alabama
Pastor Stan Cooke, Kimberly Church of God, Kimberly, Alabama
Pastor Jonathan Rodgers, Dothan, AlabamaPastor Joseph Smith, Pine Air Baptist Church, Grand Bay Alabama
Dr. David E. Gonnella, Pastor, Theodore, Alabama
Pastor Mike Allison, Madison, Alabama
Dr. Terry Batton, Christian Renewal and Development Ministries, Eufaula, Alabama
Pastors Tim and Elizabeth Hanson, Smiths Station, Alabama
Pastor Mark Liddle, Dominion Baptist Church, Birmingham, Alabama
Pastor Steve Sanders, Victory Baptist Church, Millbrook, Alabama
Dr. Richard Fox, retired Baptist pastor
Dr. Randy Cooper, Pastor, Warrior, Alabama
William Green, Minister, Fresh Anointing House of Worship, Montgomery, Alabama
Maurice McCaney, Victory Christian Fellowship Church, Florence, Alabama
Pastor Jamie Holcomb, Young’s Chapel, Piedmont, Alabama
Pastor Paul Elliott, Young’s Chapel, Piedmont, Alabama
Pastor Rodney Gilmore, Covenant Christian, Gadsden, Alabama
Pastor Mark Gidley, Faith Worship Center, Gadsden, Alabama
Pastor Bill Snow, Edgewood Church, Anniston, Alabama
Pastor Michael Yates, Webster’s Chapel, Gadsden, Alabama
Pastor Mark Holden, Webster’s Chapel, Gadsden, Alabama
Pastor Joshua Copeland, Pleasant Ridge Baptist Church, Anniston, Alabama
Pastor Bruce Jenkins, Young’s Chapel, Piedmont, Alabama
Pastor Keith Bond, Young’s Chapel, Piedmont, Alabama
Pastor Jim Lester, Fannin Road Baptist Church, Montgomery, Alabama
Pastor Thad Endicott, Heritage Baptist Church, Opelika, Alabama
Bishop Fred and Tijuanna Adetunji, Fresh Anointing House of Worship, Montgomery, Alabama
Pastor David Floyd, Marvyn Parkway Baptist Church, Opelika, Alabama
Pastor Bruce Word, Freedom Church, Gadsden, Alabama
Pastor Paul Hubbard, Lakeview Baptist Church, Montgomery, Alabama
Rev. Carl Head, Lakeview Baptist Church, Montgomery, Alabama
Pastor Duwayne Bridges, Jr., Fairfax First Christian Church, Valley, Alabama
Rev. Edwin Roberts, Adams Street Church of Christ, Enterprise, Alabama
Pastor John McCrummen, Open Door Baptist Church, Enterprise, Alabama
Rev. Mickey Counts, Open Door Baptist Church, Enterprise, Alabama
Rev. Alex Pagen, Open Door Baptist Church, Enterprise, Alabama
Pastor Glenn Brock, Eufaula, Alabama
Rev. Tim Head, Montgomery, Alabama
Pastor/Elder Ted Phillips, Christ Church, Odenville, Alabama
Tim Yarbrough, Elder, Trinity Free Presbyterian, Trinity, Alabama
Pastor Myron Mooney, Trinity Free Presbyterian, Trinity, Alabama
Jerry Frank, Elder, Trinity Free Presbyterian, Trinity, Alabama
Pastor Jim Nelson, Church of the Living God, Moulton, Alabama
Pastor Earl Wise, Millbrook, Alabama
Rick and Beverly Simpson, Summit Holiness Church, Alabama
Pastor Lane Simmons and Margie Dale Simmons, First Assembly of God, Greenville Alabama
Rev. Charles Morris, Pastor Grace Way Fellowship, Evergreen Alabama
Dr. George Grant, Pastor, Parish Presbyterian Church
Pastor David Whitney, Cornerstone Church
Dr. Peter and Roseann Waldron, St. Francis Anglican Church
Pastor Franklin and Mrs. Pamela Raddish, Capitol Hill Independent Baptist Ministries
Dr. Michael Peroutka, Institute on the Constitution
Reverend Bill Owens, Coalition of African American Pastors
**Church names are listed for identification purposes only
While that letter made a splash in the media, there were a few problems with it.
For one, it wasn’t a new letter. It turned out Kayla Moore just copied and pasted a letter that first appeared on Moore’s website over the summer, long before the allegations of child molestation came out.
Several of the pastors on the list said they didn’t give permission for their names to be on the list and wanted them removed.
Now, the New Yorker‘s Benjamin Wallace-Wells has done the work of contacting (or attempting to contact) all the pastors on the list, and what he discovered was that Moore’s support from pastors is tepid at best.
A few days ago, I started calling around Alabama, trying to track down the rest of the pastors who had been listed on Kayla Moore’s letter. Some of them were easy to find, but others were elusive. I tried William Green, at the Fresh Anointing House of Worship, in Montgomery. A receptionist told me that she had never heard of Green. I tried Steve Sanders, at the Victory Baptist Church, in Millbrook. The current pastor told me that Sanders retired two years ago. I did not reach Earl Wise, also of Millbrook, but the Boston Globe did, and, though he still emphatically supported Moore, he had also left the pastoral life and was working as a real-estate agent.
Of the 36 largest churches in Alabama, not a single pastor appeared on the list. Nor did any Southern Baptist pastors. And some of the names were so obscure that they were unknown to other pastors in their own community.
Of the several dozen pastors on the original list, four were affiliated with a small Methodist church called Young’s Chapel, in Piedmont. Five of the pastors were from Moore’s home town, Gadsden, but when I called a pastor of a major conservative church in that city, and read him the list, he recognized only a few names out of fifty.
The point is that Moore’s supposed support from Christian leaders just wasn’t there in that letter. And it’s not exactly there now. That doesn’t mean they won’t vote for him. It’s possible they don’t openly support Moore because they don’t want to deal with the backlash and accusations of supporting an alleged child molester. And their congregations may very well support Moore on Tuesday. But it’s not like the conservative Christian leaders in the state are openly behind Moore’s candidacy. That’s why a recent press conference on behalf of Moore featured a motley crew of out-of-state fringe Christians who don’t run churches but love spreading conspiracy theories online when they’re not trashing LGBTQ people.
The sad thing is that, despite the open support of conservative Christians, Moore may end up winning on Tuesday. If and when that happens, it’ll be because those same Christian “leaders” did absolutely nothing to denounce Moore — or say they believed the women coming forward with charges against Moore — when the people of Alabama needed to hear it the most. I’m not saying they should have endorsed Doug Jones, either — I want the pastors out of politics — but they could’ve denounced a fellow Christian who does such horrible things in the name of their God.
Their silence is no better than the sham Christians who appeared on that list. And because of it, we may end up with a “family values” senator who loves hitting on underage girls in his spare time when he’s not groping a 14-year-old.
If these pastors really wanted people to respect their faith and take it seriously, they should take it back from the likes of Moore and the modern GOP who have done so much to tarnish their brand.