The Alabama Senate race has become a national point of debate since allegations of sexual assault surfaced against Republican candidate Roy Moore, but inside Alabama, it has been brought to light that politics have become more important than religion, according John Archibald, a political columnist from Birmingham.
I spoke to Archibald in an interview for "Salon Now" about his blistering piece calling Moore's sexual assault allegations an “unbuckling of the Bible Belt." The Washington Post originally reported that four women, who went on the record, accused Moore of pursuing relationships with them when they were teenagers, and a fifth woman has since come forward.
Moore, a former Alabama state judge, denies the allegations and has called pressure for him to step aside a “hit job.” Alabama State Auditor Jim Zeigler came to Moore’s defense by citing the Bible and using Mary and Joseph as an example of older men in relationships with young women. The entire affair has thrown into question the values of local leaders and Evangelical voters in the state.
“There’s a lot of irony in the fact that so many of Roy Moore’s supporters are supporters because they feel like he represents the way of righteousness and of God," Archibald said. A JMC Analytics poll taken shortly after the allegations became public found that among Evangelical voters, 37 percent said it made them more likely to vote for Moore.
National leaders like Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Speaker of the House Paul Ryan have chimed in to call for Moore to step aside, but Archibald argues that anti-establishment sentiment in the state means voters are untrustworthy of Washington types weighing in. Attorney General Jeff Sessions, however, who says he has “no reason to doubt” the accusers, may have more of an impact since he is an Alabama native and it’s his former Senate seat that is up for grabs.
Watch the video above to hear more from Archibald on why playing the victim is a tactic Moore has been using for years.