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Roy Moore v. the Ninth Commandment

Roy Moore and the Ten Commandments monument that he had placed in the Alabama state judicial building.

It will come as no surprise to readers of this column that we are not a fan of Roy Moore. Indeed, from his judicial flouting of federal court orders to his hostility towards gays and Muslims to his proclivity for messing with teenaged girls, we take a rather dim view of the would-be U.S. senator from Alabama.

Still, every now and then it behooves us, as Jesus said, to walk two miles with folks we’d just as soon not have to walk one mile with, among whom are Moore’s evangelical supporters.

So far as they’re concerned, standing up for Christian values, as Roy does, means standing up for the world as it once knew it ought to be — free not just of same-sex marriage and transgender bathrooms but of all those other bad things enjoined by the Bible. The very thought of casting a ballot for Democrat is, for them, tantamount to going to an abortionist.

Which brings us to the saga of Moore and the women who say that when they were teenagers and he was an assistant district attorney he hung around them, took them on dates, and/or forced them into unwanted sexual contact. However you slice it, this implicates the Ninth (or in some versions the Eighth) Commandment: “Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor.”

For either the women are bearing false witness against their one-time neighbor in Etowah county, or he is bearing false witness against them.

Initially, Moore seemed to acknowledge some of what the women had to say, allowing as how he knew a couple of those who had come forward and saying he couldn’t remember whether he’d dated them or not. More recently, however, he has nixed all ambiguity.

As he put it at a church in Lower Alabama Nov. 29, “Let me state once again: I do not know any of these women, did not date any of these women and have not engaged in any sexual misconduct with anyone.”

This blanket denial has not sat well with the women, several of whom have issued new statements. On Monday, the Washington Post published a story (plus video) featuring one of them, Debbie Wesson Gibson, who says she openly dated Moore when she was 17, later joined him in passing out flyers when he was running for circuit judge, and exchanged Christmas cards with him for years.

Last week, Gibson said, she was in her attic retrieving Christmas decorations when she came upon her old high school scrapbook. In it were notes from Moore and her own written memories of dating him, all of which she decided to make public after watching the video of his Nov. 29 remarks.

“He called me a liar,” Gibson told the Post. “Roy Moore made an egregious mistake to attack that one thing — my integrity.”

At issue is both what Moore is alleged to have done four decades ago and the testimony he’s offering about it today. If his evangelical supporters walk a couple of miles with Debbie Wesson Gibson, they will know him for the liar she says he is.

And if they go out and vote for him anyway, they will be betraying exactly what they think they’re standing for.


About the author

Mark Silk

Mark Silk is Professor of Religion in Public Life at Trinity College and director of the college's Leonard E. Greenberg Center for the Study of Religion in Public Life. He is a Contributing Editor of the Religion News Service


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  • The latest (so far) CBS News Poll, does not bode well for Mark Silk and the rest of of the “I-Hate-Moore” gang.

    If Moore can hold on to the lead for one more week, it’s game over. Not just for Democrat Jones, but also the fanatical “Washington Post” rag, and everybody else (including Jimmy Kimmel). The tide has apparently turned.

    Many conservatives wish Trump’s man Luther Strange had initially beaten Moore. Many liberals wish that all those women would have shut up about Al Franken and John Conyers, at least till after the election. (By the way, those two Democrats even LOOK like Creepy Clowns!!)

    At any rate, the 9th Commandment is important, but Alabama voters are getting VERY tired of the entire circus, and especially tired of the lack of due process. (They’re also getting tired of Jones!)

  • I wonder how many sex abuse victims around that state must now give up their hopes of ever naming their abusers, let alone holding them accountable.

  • Clearly conservatives like you are completely bereft of ethics and morals. You would rather elect a lying, embezzling, bigoted, disgrace, pederast than a democrat who prosecuted white supremacists.

    BTW thanks to the attempted hit-piece by Project Veritas, the credibility of the Washington Post’s pieces about Roy Moore are even greater.

    Sensible conservatives would rather have Jones win the election and handily defeat him in the next with a candidate who isn’t a scumbucket. Now it looks likes like the nutjobs and fanatics are having their say.

    ” Many liberals wish that all those women would have shut up about Al Franken and John Conyers, at least till after the election.”

    Name one. Liberals are demanding those two step down. Conservatives have to lie like this to try to excuse their own terrible sexual predator enabling behavior.

  • It’s a hard row to hoe on all sides, NavyLady.

    On the one hand, you really do want women to be taken seriously when they report abuse, and you want the abusers held accountable.

    On the other hand, back in the Jim Crow days, all it took to get a black man killed or imprisoned was a single off-the-wall accusation from a white woman. Bad things happen when “due process” and “innocent till proven guilty” are ignored.

    Toss in the usual political games, and you have a difficult gig no matter what.

  • Apple and oranges.
    Due process and innocent until proven guilty are moot points as the statue of limitations negates any attempts for justice on behalf of the victims.
    So like children in church, women will still have to suffer the shame of abuse in silence.

  • The Washington Post was excellent reporting. Proof of this is in the right’s attempt to discredit the reporting through the Orwellian “Project Veritas”‘ trying to dirty-trick them into publishing a false story about Moore. Something Moore acknowledged knowing about.

  • “Apples and oranges”? Not if you’re staring down the wrong end of either situation. Consider the young woman Melanie Martinez. An aspiring singer with a good shot at a career, having earned sixth place in “The Voice” TV competition of 2012.

    But now SHE’s gotten accused as well. Her former bestie, aspiring singer Timothy Heller (another woman), now accuses her of “raping Heller with a sex toy while they at a sleepover.”

    Heller is sincere and should be taken very seriously. But rape accusation is ALSO very serious. Jail time. And even if you’re acquitted, your career can be wiped out. So tell me: Which woman should get short-changed here? Martinez or Heller?

  • Oh sure, the Washington Post reporter DID do an excellent expose of the politically motivated game played by Project Veritas. No problem.

    It’s just that the Project Veritas expose, as legitimate as it is, arrived less than a week after a Washington Post reporter got caught playing her own big-time politically motivated game.

    So I have no reason to trust the longstanding-liberal Washington Post as an unbiased, no-games news source, especially with Roy Moore. They reported the accusations (as expected), but otherwise, Alabama voters have been on their own in terms of figuring out what’s true & what’s false.

  • this liberal woman want Franken and Conyers to resign. Sweep the whole bunch of pedophiles, panderers, and sexual predators out of office. If Moore gets in, dump him fast.
    Floyboy, take some responsibility once instead of cheering on the sexual predators and murderers.

  • (On the Project Veritas issue, see my reply to Arbustin. No need to rehash it. WaPo is an objective, professional source of birdcage liner; birds overwhelmingly love it. Works better than Charmin, they say!!)

    Meanwhile, GOP leader McConnell changed from “He Must Resign” to “Let the Voters Decide.” The RNC changed from “No Money For Moore” to “Blank Check For Moore.” Trump didn’t even support Moore, but now endorses him. Most of all, the Alabama voters seem to be favoring Moore.

    That last sentence is the most important. So you sincerely tell me Spuddie, why are the Alabama voters changing THEIR tune?

  • Alabama voters have been watching Franken & Conyers, imo.
    Franken only sincerely apologized to his first victim, he completely stonewalled the others, and now says he will “get back to work”.

    So Conyers’ black supporters ask why leader Nancy Pelosi said Conyers must resign (but didn’t say Franken must resign). But now Conyers has retired “due to his health”, yet he wins the game anyway by putting his own son up for an automatic election victory.

    So Alabama voters may be saying, “Since NOBODY is ‘sweeping anybody out of office’, why should Moore crash and burn all by himself? Especially without due process?”

  • WaPo is a well regarded journalistic source with years of experience and credibility. Your opinion of them only makes it clearer. Project Veritas is a literal conservative BS factory. You have been known to continue to refer to them even after EVERYTHING they have done has been debunked. Your notions of objectivity are your own and not those of anyone else.

    “GOP leader McConnell changed from “He Must Resign” to “Let the Voters Decide.””

    Fecklessness among the GOP? How surprisingly. Well not, so surprising. OK, not surprising at all. Its already established that the Republicans represent the worst American society has to offer at this point. From wannabe kleptocrats to neo-nazis.

    ” So you sincerely tell me Spuddie, why are the Alabama voters changing THEIR tune?”

    Because they are more concerned with grabbing power than integrity, morals and ethics. Moore never belonged on a ballot from the outset. Between his embezzling and rightful removals from the AL Supreme Court, he showed he was unsuitable for public office except for the most corrupt, bigoted and craven. Your kind of people.

  • Mark – you want to talk commands by God?

    John 7:51 – English Standard Version

    “Does our law judge a man without first giving him a hearing and learning what he does?”

    Deuteronomy 19:15

    “A single witness shall not rise up against a man on account of any iniquity or any sin which he has committed; on the evidence of two or three witnesses a matter shall be confirmed.

  • Sandi

    re – “”A single witness shall not rise up against a man on account of any iniquity or any sin which he has committed; on the evidence of two or three witnesses a matter shall be confirmed.”

    If that is truly what a god said that god is, at least one of, stupid, naive or wicked; and certainly not a fit object of worship or adoration.

  • I thought if a woman said that, the critic would STFU. I’m from MA. We don’t tolerate that crap. Senate president, Stanley Rosenberg, has resigned in the wake of charges being filed against his husband that the man assaulted four other men. Everyone is as furious and outraged about this as if they were a straight couple, and more to the point here, Hold. Them. Responsible. Anyone who has done what Trump and Moore did, nay, any public figure.

  • NY Times and WaPo are doing extraordinary journalism, with the highest level of integrity and commitment to tell the Truth no matter where it takes them.

    Now I hear Trump might want to pack the court with conservatives and drown out the 4 progressives. We gotta get rid of Idiot Trump ASAP.

  • Umm, you didn’t deny that the WaPo journalist got caught last month, did you? I figured you wouldn’t be able to.

    But you did give me a sincere (albeit predictable) answer to the specific question I asked you concerning Alabama voters, so I do thank you for that.

    There is no net gain of “power” for Alabama voters; they’re merely filling the same old Senate seat they’ve always filled.

  • Makes you wonder how the god who created humanity fails to understand that evidence is not dependant on eyewitness testimony – almost as if he’d never heard of DNA isn’t it?

  • Nope. Got caught doing…..?

    Given your propensity for taking ridiculous wingnut crap at face value (Project Veritas, ex gays, Alveda King…) I sincerely doubt your ability to represent news in an objective and honest manner.

    Alabama conservative voters clearly have nothing worthwhile to say about professionalism, integrity or values.

  • Did you read the Fox News article as well as the Washington Post’s response?. In addition, Fox does report that she acted independently and against directive. So in fact, anything she writes will get extra editorial scrutiny before publishing.. I can’t figure out why if this gives you the ammunition to make an accusation of fake news, then none of your normal news sources would be in the realm of legitimate news including those that band WaPo about in referencing the paper. .

  • Here’s a related question? Why did a 30 year RNC member and the black pastor of the Worldwide Christian Center Church in Pompano Beach, Fla., renouncing his membership and write an op-ed in the South Florida Times outlining his reasons for doing so? (He has a very interesting biography on the church’s website and I know his bio would give great credence in your eyes) IAfter reading that I am guessing that he likely felt compelled to go public which in some ways was a retraction of a previously published book (2008) entitled Who’s on the Lord’s Side: Politically.)

    My personal opinion is that the allegations have grown stale in the public eye so the base is doing due diligence by supporting him because, while he may be a sinner, he is Christian after all.

  • Due process is civil court And that moves like molasses. And can gets settled out of court or with a non-disclosure agreement so the truth gets hidden.

  • Oh, c’mon Sandi. Have you read/listen to the women’s accounts? Do you have any doubt that they are telling the truth?

  • John 7 is grossly inappropriate as to context – it refers to Pharisees decrying Jesus for healing a man on the Sabbath but more importantly, seeking his death for claiming to be the Christ descendant of David. . And we know how the witness thing worked out for Jesus in spite of Nicodemus’ entreaty..

    Besides in the Roy Moore instance there are more than 3 witnesses. End of story.

  • So what the Lord said can only apply to one circumstance for you Linda? From some of your comments, I understand that, but it isn’t only that way.
    As for the 3 witnesses. Is that for each instance? Or are you suggesting there are 3 instances?

  • Amongst the possible responses to your wondering that you need to address are

    a) there is no god
    b) god didn’t make me
    c) calling me arrogant doesn’t make me wrong.

    (Belief is not an adequate way of addressing wonderings).

  • You do know an election is not a trial. In this case a man is being elected. What kind of man is he? Is he the sort that would make Alabama proud and the whole country a better place? Surely his record is of some import in your decision.

  • Of course you can, Sandi. You, a sinner, are interpreting what the Lord is saying. For centuries we have seen people who were sure they knew what the words meant exposed by the light of history to have been dead wrong. Humility.

  • For years Bible thumping bigots have been spouting the slander that gays are all secret pedophiles. I did not realize they thought this was a qualification for the Senate.

  • “Alabama voters have been watching Franken & Conyers, imo.”

    So they can feel better about their feckless and immoral choices. Why have standards, values and ethics?

    “why should Moore crash and burn all by himself?”

    Because the state GOP was stupid enough to put such a patently unsuitable candidate on the ballot.

  • Moore is a pedophile. 14 and 16 year old girls. You are an ethical eunuch. No balls and no brains.

  • that is not Christian. Jesus said if you harm one of these (children) it will be as if a millstone is tied around your neck.

  • There was also a woman who said that when she was in high school Roy Moore got the principal to call her on the school’s intercom system while she was in her Trig. class. When she got to the principal’s office. Roy Moore was there too and he asked her for a date. That can proved.

    Moore recently claimed that George Soros was going to Hell and created a fantasy of classic antisemitic conspiracy theories about Soros and his evil agenda. Nearly all Evangelicals think all Jews are going to Hell, but the liberal ones don’t talk about it. Only Pope Francis has said that Jews don’t need to convert. It is the idea the Jews conspire and use money for nefarious purposes that is classic antisemitism.

  • Due process is for the courts. These cases will not come to trial. Therefore demanding due process is just a way of ignoring the accusations so you can vote for him. Voters are not allowed the luxury of knowing all the facts in this case. Nevertheless, we must vote. This means we must decide for ourselves on his moral fitness (along with whether he possesses the other character qualities that would make a good senator). Personally, I believe his moral character is fatally flawed in several areas. By the way, “Sad”? Are you having a bad day, loose a pet, or what? Tacking on this word leads to misunderstanding. This is not Twitter. You can use whole sentences you know.

  • I repeat Franken didn’t molest 14 year olds and he confessed. Conyers didn’t confess, but he’s 88 and shouldn’t be in Congress anyway. He’s shown up in his pajamas at important events. Well. Roy Moore isn’t in office yet and we can prevent him by using his power as a senator to pick up young girls. At least girls are now warned in advance. He is not on trial or in the court system. Is there due process for electing a senator or do you want him to be put on trial and then there will be due process? Chris Matthews said that GOP now stands for Grand Old Pedophile.

  • I didn’t say “fake news.” I did commend WaPo for its big Veritas catch, right?

    But I did show that WaPo reporters’ hands aren’t always clean either, and there’s a reason why they are considered to seriously have a liberal bias.

    I say keep on reading WaPo, but don’t give ’em a free pass, not even on their Roy Moore stories.

  • Franken has been a real downer on the coming-clean front. After his first victim, he not only stopped apologizing to each person, he even stopped acknowledging that he did anything wrong. But you should be troubled by the way he did it.

    Franken has the right to deny any wrongdoing (guess that “sleeping” photo means nothing), but that odious, condescending “I’m sorry if you feel that way, but I have to get back to work now” attitude of his, should be highly disturbing to all of us. Yet he’s getting a free pass.

  • I’m not the one voting for or against him on Dec. 12. Alabama voters are doing that.

    They see attitudes like yours in the media and the pundits, and voting for Moore suddenly seems like a good and rational response, a reasonable self-defense move.

  • Due process helps us all to hash out the truth, but seemingly, nobody’s interested (or able to come up with a process).

    All that matters now, to all sides and all national media, is Dec. 12.

  • Due process is a legal term. It’s what a court does/insures. It’s not applicable here since there will be no trial of Roy Moore for the crimes of which he is currently accused. Hence demanding due process is just a way of saying it’s OK to ignore the accusations of his accusers. So either the voters believe them or they believe Moore or they decide it doesn’t matter one way or the other. But due process is a red herring.

  • Shall we look at Moore a little mooore closely?

    It turns out that his current wife was married before. Quelle surprise!!!!! Divorce among baptists is like fleas among dogs.

    “The Washington Examiner reports:

    Alabama Republican Senate candidate Roy Moore’s account of when he began dating his wife Kayla would place the start of their courtship before her divorce from her first husband, according to court documents.

    This comes as the Moore campaign’s defense of the retired judge against multiple allegations of sexual misconduct hinges on disputing minute details of the accusers’ versions of events.

    On Tuesday afternoon, the Washington Examiner asked Moore’s campaign to explain apparent contradictions between his account of his relationship with Kayla Kisor and information contained in public records.

    “Regardless of when they met, Judge and Kayla did not date while she was still with her ex-husband or legally married,” campaign spokesman Brett Doster responded by email.”

    Now, we’ve already had this conversation about jesus, adultery, remarriage, divorce. The good bible believing Christians, moral relativists to the very core of their souls, people like Floyd and Sandimonious, are either unsure about divorce and remarriage being adultery,even though Jesus himself said so…because, as we all know, whenever the Bible says something inconvenient, it must mean something else entirely.

    But curiously, from Corinthians, what sandimonious and floyfloy use to condemn gay people, comes THIS.

    10 To the married I give this command (not I, but the Lord): A wife must not separate from her husband. 11 But if she does, she must remain unmarried or else be reconciled to her husband. And a husband must not divorce his wife.
    Paul is more stringent than Jesus, but says he’s speaking for the Lord.

    Pretty clear. Sandimonious says Jesus wrote the Bible, jEsus speaks for god, Paul speaks for Jesus, it’s all…

    Moral relativists: my moral are for THEE, not for MEE.

  • How about the context of Moore claiming to defend the 10 commandments, one of which expressly forbids adultery, and marrying a divorced woman, when Jesus and paulboth say that marrying one is a bad idea?

    I suspect YOU know a good deal about that bit of inconvenience.

  • Belief x2 is no more convincing than belief x1.

    When you have more to offer than unsupported belief let me know – until then the general rule applies – that which is believed without evidence can be dismissed without evidence. Consider your belief dismissed.

  • Forget the boring one-liners, Spuddie. Let’s you ‘n’ me REALLY hash out this chess game.
    As you know, things are getting tight up in DC. Our little contest has reached its endgame, and everybody’s gittin’ all uptight, with only 6 more days before The Big Election.

    Your Democrat guy Jones had it made in the shade, but he took the Alabama voters for granted and offered them NOTHING other than “Well, I ain’t Roy Moore.” So Moore regained his strong religion-based swag, and the national Democrats see that Jones is in trouble.

    So now the Dems are running to sacrifice Al Franken on the devil’s altar, presumably to show how moral and pro-woman the Dems are. No due process, (not even the Senate ethics probe.) So talk to me, tell me how you see this entire chess game will end, and why.

  • Nicodemus may have actually been referring to Roman law given the presence of officers. To sentence a person to death invoked Roman law.according to the writings of Josephus. We don’t know. From what I can find, Jesus was likely considered to a heretic and heretics were not normally dealt with in Jewish courts of law.. In other words, what is being said is more complicated than saying the Lord said this. in this specific verse.

    The allegations against Moore are neither heresy nor involve a death sentence so I would suggest that you are trying to use Scripture to compare apples to oranges. Criminal for two allegations and violations of a code of conduct for the rest. The code of conduct standards are largely self-imposed and based on Moore’s comments about others. There is no legal mechanism in place for a legal judgment of historic sexual assaults in Alabama.. As far as I know, the only independent investigation of these historic allegations and verified to the extent possible have arisen out of the Washington Post.. Even Moore initially said he might have known them initially before deciding to deny he knew them at all.

    So it really is a case for Solomon unless Moore can provide witnesses that counter the allegations in a credible manner. And in this case it would be considering not only the credibility of the accusers which the Post tried to address but also the accused. If I was Solomon I would look at the number of accusers, their stories, corroborating evidence – physical or otherwise. And then I would look at the change as to what Moore said, would consider if he has ever lied publicly before, independent testimony as to his character, consider his professional career as judge, and review court documents that suggest Moore was dating his wife before she was actually divorced.

  • The biggest differences that I can ascertain in your previous two comments is that you reference s/he sai, s/he said scenarios. Not a collection of people speaking up about the actions of a specific individual.

  • His (Moore’s) “[H]ostility towards gays and Muslims”? Hostility? He advocates the death penalty for gay people and says that no Muslim should be permitted to hold any elected office in the U.S. He left mere “hostility” behind several hundred miles ago on the highway to Crazytown.

  • This is a good time to offer what the Bible says to all who are divorced-&-remarried for whatever reason.

    Yes, Jesus is serious about it. Some folks may need to confess sin(s), repent of it, and turn to Christ for forgiveness, cleansing & healing. That’s okay. You ain’t second-class or inferior. But that’s where you need to follow Jesus and not Ben, ’cause Jesus got some good news for you. Here it is:

    “Despite the origin of the marriage, God still joined the two together. The (remarried) couple should not divorce, which would be adding sin to sin, and should not let anyone compel them to consider divorce (Matthew 19:6). The adultery occurred between the decision to marry and the wedding day; it does not continue every time the couple consummates their marriage or in their day-to-day married lives.”
    — Michael Houdmann, leader of GotQuestions.

  • You just took a good opportunity to show how “bible believing” Christians manage to get around anything inconvenient in the Bible, and found some bible believing tool to justify it for you, without actually explaining how he came to the conclusion.

    What god has joined together LET NO MAN DIVIDE. That seems pretty clear. That’s Jesus, not Ben.

    Paul says pretty much the same.

    As I have said many times before, the last person on the planet I would ask for moral advice is a person who gets his or her “morals”, “from the Bible”, or “from god”.

  • There is NOTHING rational about voting for Moore. Christian conservatives are listening to Moore’s dog whistle politics. They would follow him and Bannon and Trump and sell their own daughters down the river if they could. Shame on them and shame on your for being so vile.

  • Well, honestly no disrespect to you Ben. But be honest: You understand clearly what Houdmann said, and you can feel its force.

    Houdmann’s explanation (which is clearly based on Matt. 19:6), impacts a person like fresh cold spring water on a thirsty Sahara Desert soul. Divorced-&-Remarried Christians will stop seeing themselves as “second-class”, “inferior”, “damaged-goods.” They will see Jesus, and themselves, in a new, healed, sunlight way.

    And Ben, I told you that it’s not too late, you can still see and realize things you ain’t NEVER seen before, you CAN still fulfill God’s destiny for you, even though you’re over 65. Why wait?

  • You always mean disrespect to me.

    If anything would ever convince me of the reality of Jesus, it would be 100% the opposite of you and our resident hombigots here.

    As far as I am concerned, I am fulfilling god’s destiny for me, if I believed in a god, any god, and if I thought that the I finite creator of the entire finite universe had the slightest interest in my destiny.

    And that destiny would be to continue to stand up to people who think their region resembles a baseball bat.

  • Yep. And there are dozens of witnesses against Roy Moore. In addition to the women, mall employees, store managers, police officers and coworkers knew of his behavior toward teenaged girls. I think the “two witnesses” standards has been met a few dozen times.

    And Moore’s side has been heard. Upon hearing him, most people concluded he is a liar and a creep. But that dies not mean he was not heard.

  • Yes, the Democrats suddenly turned on a dime, and they all suddenly teamed up to push Al Franken to resign. But everybody and their mother knows the REAL reason for all these sudden developments:

    Franken’s resignation is simply part of the Dem’s political chess game. Sacrifice the worthless pawn (Al Franken), in a last-ditch effort to keep another worthless pawn (Democrat Jones) from getting captured by the Republican Roy Moore,

  • Nicodemus would be discussing Jewish law with the Lord Linda.
    I suggest you do further reading….perhaps the book of John.
    You have the proof everyone wants! Wow! You could be rich – call CNN!
    Christians follow standards as set by the Lord.
    I would say that someone has to provide witnesses to the acts Moore is accused of.

  • I can only repeat myself. These “conservative Christians” are neither conservative nor Christian. They are reactionaries and Calvinists/heretics.

  • These people are so quick to hate Gays because their peodophiles even though there’s not evidence to support that claim, but they love Roy Moore.