The sexual misconduct allegations against Alabama Republican Senate candidate Roy Moore are serious, and they shouldn't be dismissed outright as "fake news."
There are plenty of Republicans who are condemning or distancing themselves from Moore over his alleged behavior. However, you'll find a handful of loyal Moore supporters and Republicans who are disputing the Washington Post report about Moore initiating a sexual encounter with a 14-year-old and courting three other teenage girls, and are instead giving Moore the benefit of the doubt. In fact, many loyalists, and even Moore's brother Jerry, have been painting the allegations as a smear campaign, likening it to the persecution of Jesus Christ.
In an interview with the Washington Examiner on Thursday, Alabama State Auditor Jim Ziegler invoked the story of Mary (as in, the Virgin Mary), her husband Joseph, and the birth of Jesus.
“Take the Bible. Zachariah and Elizabeth for instance. Zachariah was extremely old to marry Elizabeth and they became the parents of John the Baptist,” Ziegler said. “Also take Joseph and Mary. Mary was a teenager and Joseph was an adult carpenter. They became parents of Jesus.”
“There’s just nothing immoral or illegal here,” Ziegler concluded. “Maybe just a little bit unusual.”
To those who believe Moore's side of the story, I would ask, what if Moore had been any other faith? What if he had been a Muslim, for example? Would you still give him the same benefit of the doubt that you've given him thus far?
One of the often heard criticisms made against Islam is that it's a death cult or political ideology, not a religion, started by a pedophile who had hallucinations in a cave in the Middle East. They are, of course, citing the prophet Muhammad, who they believe married a child, Aisha bint Abi Bakr, when he was an old man.
During the time that Islam was founded in the seventh century, it was customary for men to not only marry multiple wives, but also marry to provide protection and dignity to widows, free slaves, and, in the case of Aisha, to seal alliances for greater strategic purposes (much like how some arranged marriages work today). Many scholars trace Aisha's age at the time of her marriage to Muhammad to be around 15 or 16 years old (not 9 years old), which, again, in the seventh century was a traditional age to get married. However, it's not traditional today.
If Moore were a Muslim, many of his critics would immediately tie his behavior to that of Muhammad. And they would want him to immediately drop out of the race or even want him prosecuted. And that's fair.
Taking a romantic interest in young girls is behavior unbecoming of anyone in today's society, and unfitting of a candidate for U.S. Senate representing millions of people.
To Moore's defenders, stop finding biblical excuses for Moore in one breath and trashing Muhammad's marriage practices in the next. Tribalism, partisanship, and the prospect of winning are clouding your judgment and morality. Stop letting it.