Earlier this week, I asked this poll question on Twitter: "If Roy Moore was running against Hillary Clinton for POTUS and you believed he was guilty of the 40-year-old, serious charges being brought against him, how would you vote?"
In response, 39 percent said they would still vote for Moore, 6 percent said they would vote for Hillary and 55 percent said they would not vote at all. (A few others wrote in that they would vote for a third-party candidate.)
Some were not happy with the question, tweeting, "Why are you asking this hypothetical question about Judge Moore? It causes the thought to form in people's minds, even unconsciously, that he might be guilty. But he is plainly innocent and he needs to be vigorously defended by all who love the truth."
Another wrote, "personally I dislike the implied bias in the question. ... so I'm. not voting." And still another posted, "Roy Moore is a Christian brother. For the last 40 years Roy Moore has served Jesus Christ and the people of Alabama. Why do you cast obstacles and divisions? What appetite are you satisfying with your salacious questions?"
To be candid, I find such responses distressing.
These are real issues that need to be discussed, and the nation is watching to see how evangelical Christians respond to serious allegations against one of our own. Do we simply look the other way? Do we condemn the Harvey Weinsteins (and others on the left) based on witness testimony but question witness testimony when it comes against our side?
More importantly, if we believed Judge Moore to be guilty, would we vote for him for the alleged greater good? As another follower tweeted, "Shall We Endorse Evil That Good May Result?"
To reiterate my own position yet again, I hope Judge Moore is innocent, and I would love to see him serve in the Senate. And I have prayed (and do pray) that the truth would come to light before the elections, whatever the truth might be.
In fact, because I've said we need to evaluate the evidence fairly, I was blasted by one Christian woman, who wrote, "Dr. Brown, you are the reason women don't come forward when they're sexually assaulted. One of the primary reasons they don't is they won't be believed. It's men like you that help to keep women silent. This is why women are thankful for compassionate, unbiased, Christlike leaders who believe Leigh Corfman and Beverly Nelson. ..." (For the record, Christian women, including a number who were molested and raped, told me overwhelmingly that they differed with this woman's assessment. (For a relevant video, go here.)
One man wrote, "Is Dr. Brown the chaplain for right-wing media? He sure acts like it! Is there anything they push that Dr. Brown doesn't repeat?" Another opined, "Dr. Brown is appearing more and more to be a hireling." And still another wrote (this man clearly a liberal), "Shame on you, you cowardly old crackpot. History will be your judge. And there's good reason for you to be very uneasy about that."
These attacks were the result of my calling on Gloria Allred to release Beverly Young Nelson's yearbook for forensic analysis. So, if anything, I could be criticized for not immediately believing his accusers' rather than criticized for casting "obstacles and divisions" or making people think that "he might be guilty." I truly do not know who to believe at this point as I weigh the evidence before God.
The reality, though, is that I'm asking an important ethical question: If you knew that a staunchly evangelical candidate was guilty of trying to force himself on girls as young as 14 when he was in his 30s and was lying about it today, would you still vote for that person if it was for the alleged greater good?
It would be one thing if this was part of Judge Moore's public record (and again, I hope the charges are not true) and, when these issues were brought to light again, he said, "Yes, I had a serious moral issue in my life at that time. But with God's help and with the help of local ministers, I dealt with that issue and have been sexually chaste ever since. My record speaks for itself."
It would be one thing if everything had been worked out with the families involved 40 years ago and someone rediscovered these incidents today. (Once more, I'm not presuming guilt; I'm simply presenting scenarios.)
If that were the case, we could say, "We've all blown it one way or another in the past. And even if his transgressions were more serious than others, he dealt with them, all parties involved were satisfied, and he has had an exemplary track record until today. Why shouldn't I vote for him?"
Things would even be different if he immediately confessed when the charges came forward and said, "Yes, this is all true, and I'm embarrassed by what happened. But no charges were ever pressed, I made peace with God and man and deeply repented of my actions. And as you can see, no such charges have been brought against me within the last 40 years. My life has been squeaky clean."
Again, we could choose to forgive the past and vote for the man based on his 40-year track record.
But this is not the case. Either the charges are false or is he lying about them to this day, meaning his very Christian witness must be questioned.
This is the essential point I feel many evangelicals are missing. And while I would consider voting for someone who confessed to such misdeeds from more than four decades ago if they demonstrated a changed life ever since, I would not vote for a lying hypocrite.
So, if I was living in Alabama today and nothing definitive came out before the elections, I would either believe Judge Moore and vote for him or else I would believe his accusers and not vote at all. The ultimate issue for me is his integrity and honesty today, since his whole campaign is based on his strong Christian witness and strong Christian stand.
Dr. Michael Brown (www.askdrbrown.org) is the host of the nationally syndicated Line of Fire radio program. His latest book is Saving a Sick America: A Prescription for Moral and Cultural Transformation. Connect with him on Facebook or Twitter.