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Republican Judge Roy Moore is running in Alabama’s upcoming special election to take Jeff Session’s vacant Senate seat. But after allegations emerged claiming that Moore sexually assaulted a 14-year-old girl when he was 32, Moore’s chances look to be in peril. That isn’t stopping one Republican politician from defending Moore, though.
Alabama state auditor Jim Ziegler (R) told the Washington Examiner on Thursday that Moore is as “clean as a hound’s tooth.” He then went one step further and turned to the Bible to explain away Moore’s alleged sexual misconduct.
“Take the Bible,” he told the Examiner. “Zachariah and Elizabeth for instance. Zachariah was extremely old to marry Elizabeth and they became the parents of John the Baptist.”
Refusing to stop there, Ziegler decided to call upon Jesus’ mother and father to defend Moore’s actions.
“Also take Joseph and Mary,” the auditor continued. “Mary was a teenager and Joseph was an adult carpenter. They became parents of Jesus.”
Ziegler claimed there was “nothing immoral or illegal” about Moore’s behavior, instead calling it “a little bit unusual.” But if it’s true that Moore had sexual contact with Leigh Corfman, a 14-year-old when he was 32, he could be charged with “sexual abuse in the second degree,” as The Washington Post reports. Granted, the statue of limitations has since passed for both a civil lawsuit and criminal charges, but a crime is still a crime—something much more than “a bit unusual”—even if it cannot be prosecuted.
More importantly, it’s disgusting to use the Bible in order to defend Moore’s actions. Culturally and socially speaking, Americans growing up in the 20th and 21st century have a much more sophisticated understanding of teenage psychological and emotional development than the ancient Romans and Jews. In other words, someone like Moore grew up in an environment that told him it was wrong to have sex with a teenager because teens are vulnerable, whereas biblical figures most likely did not.
Plus, throughout the world, various Christian denominations argue that Mary remained a virgin after having Christ, so it doesn’t make sense to compare Moore’s alleged sexual assault with Joseph and Mary’s relationship. For many, it’s offensive to even suggest that the two had a sexual relationship. And for those that see the Bible’s characters as deeply romanticized historical figures (if not fictional altogether), then referencing the Bible as a source for moral guidance is like defending pedophilia because Lolita made Humbert Humbert look pretty relatable.
Suffice to say, the internet isn’t pleased with Ziegler’s defense. Practically everyone agrees: “Don’t drag Jesus into this mess.”
Don't drag Jesus into this mess.— Patricia Arquette (@PattyArquette) November 9, 2017
Always thought Mary was a virgin and Joseph was not Jesus's father? But I am Jewish so what do I know...— Justin Satzman (@jsatz23) November 9, 2017
Ignore for a moment the fact Roy Moore did it.— Scott Dworkin (@funder) November 10, 2017
Republicans are literally defending child molestation—saying things like “even if it’s true” & citing the Bible to justify it.
I’ll never let voters forget this.
Joseph was older than Mary, so it's okay Roy Moore molested a 14-year-old.— Nicholas Grossman (@NGrossman81) November 10, 2017
It's straight out of the Bible. The Immaculate Misconception.
Others pointed out that the Republican Party’s candidates and politicians constantly rely on questionable interpretations of the Bible, pushing for conservative values that contradict Jesus’ actual teachings.
"Christian" conservatives now distort the Bible to justify child molestation, making US laughing stock of the worldhttps://t.co/IpCyhadczu— Richard W. Painter (@RWPUSA) November 10, 2017
Jesus silent on gays. But, AL GOP, the Bible quotes him saying this about ppl like Roy Moore: "But whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck & that he were drowned in the depth of the sea."— Kurt Eichenwald (@kurteichenwald) November 9, 2017
Others are pointing out that the same political party spreading fears about Sharia law, or Islamic law, in the U.S. also has a politician using the Bible to justify alleged sexual assault.
#GOP "We oppose the idea of Sharia Law in the USA."— (((Timothy Thelen))) (@timmthelen) November 10, 2017
Roy Moore preyed on a 14 yer old girl.
GOP "Here's why the Bible says that's perfectly OK."
The people using Bible stories to defend Roy Moore's sexual predator behaviors towards underage girls are the same people warning you about Sharia law.— LivingBlue (@LivingBlueinRed) November 10, 2017
If you’re gonna defend Roy Moore by using the bible you don’t get to complain about Sharia Law ever again!— Dick Coughlan (@DickCoughlan) November 10, 2017
For now, it remains unclear how the sexual assault allegations will impact Moore’s campaign run, or if Ziegler will feel some pushback as well. President Donald Trump has since encouraged Moore to end his candidacy, although Trump himself has faced a child sexual assault allegation in the past as well.
Ana Valens is a reporter specializing in online queer communities, marginalized identities, and adult content creation. She is Daily Dot's Trans/Sex columnist. Her work has appeared at Vice, Vox, Truthout, Bitch Media, Kill Screen, Rolling Stone, and the Toast. She lives in Brooklyn, New York, and spends her free time developing queer adult games.