By Lavendrick Smith, The Charlotte Observer
Franklin Graham came under fire Friday when he took to Twitter to defend Roy Moore, the GOP’s embattled Alabama U.S. Senate hopeful who in recent weeks has had several women accuse him of sexual misconduct from decades ago when they were teenagers.
In a tweet that has been shared thousands of times, Graham slammed Moore’s critics and claimed some of Moore’s biggest detractors in Washington have done “much worse” things.
“The hypocrisy of Washington has no bounds,” Graham tweeted Friday afternoon. “So many denouncing Roy Moore when they are guilty of doing much worse than what he has been accused of supposedly doing. Shame on those hypocrites.”
The hypocrisy of Washington has no bounds. So many denouncing Roy Moore when they are guilty of doing much worse than what he has been accused of supposedly doing. Shame on those hypocrites.
— Franklin Graham (@Franklin_Graham) November 17, 2017
One woman has accused Moore of molesting her when she was 14, while another said Moore assaulted her when she was 16. Several other women alleged Moore pursued romantic relationships with them when they were teenagers.
Graham’s tweet came a day after he said he spoke with Moore and asked him about the accusations. He wrote on Facebook that Moore said the allegations were “absolutely not” true, and Graham believed Moore’s denial.
“My prayer is that the truth will ultimately be revealed and lies will be seen for what they are,” Graham wrote on Thursday.
The Charlotte faith leader’s defense of Moore was met with criticism by many who saw the tweet as dismissive of the seriousness of child molestation. People wondered why Graham hadn’t alerted authorities if he is aware of Congress members who’ve done worse than what Moore is accused of.
“A reminder that Moore has been accused of sexually molesting a 14 year old girl and sexually assaulting a 16 year old girl,” CNN anchor Jake Tapper responded on Twitter. “Who’s guilty of ‘doing much worse than’ that, Reverend? Seriously, this is a matter for law enforcement.”
A reminder that Moore has been accused of sexually molesting a 14 year old girl and sexually assaulting a 16 year old girl.
Who's guilty of "doing much worse than" that, Reverend? Seriously, this is a matter for law enforcement https://t.co/cTXLoWxfND
— Jake Tapper (@jaketapper) November 17, 2017
Others saw Graham’s tweet as party politics. Democrats and Republicans have been criticized recently of being outraged at accusations of sexual misconduct when the accused is from the opposite party.
“You literally just defended sexual contact with minors,” Rick Wilson, a Republican political strategist, tweeted. “You’re a brand, not a pastor.”
“You know you’ve gotten off mission when you’re defending allegations of sexual assault and molestation for the sake of a culture war,” writer David Roark responded.
You literally just defended sexual contact with minors.
You're a brand, not a pastor. https://t.co/ehJwwEu4o1
— Rick Wilson (@TheRickWilson) November 17, 2017
In a world where tribal disloyalty is seen as a graver sin than the sexual assault of a 14-year-old. https://t.co/rJAROnuMoE
— Jeffrey Vagle (@jvagle) November 18, 2017
I am stunned to see this tweet. I've trusted your opinion for years, and donate to Samaritan's Purse all the time.
Well. I used to. The Trump era is a modern dark age. https://t.co/GgKvgx0n3q
— Caleb Howe (@CalebHowe) November 17, 2017
Graham isn’t the only faith leader to stick by Moore in the wake of the accusations.
A coalition of religious leaders in Alabama issued a letter in support of Moore and condemning the media for reporting the story, CBS News reported.
“We stand with Judge Roy Moore, a man of integrity who has never wavered from his valiant defense of the unborn, the Ten Commandments, and the Constitution. We are confident the voters of Alabama will not be fooled by suspiciously timed accusations without evidence and will reject the politics of personal destruction led by the Washington Post,” the letter stated, referencing The Washington Post story that interviewed Moore’s initial accusers.
Meanwhile, other religious leaders were in Alabama on Saturday to oppose Moore’s run for congress.
The Rev. William Barber, former North Carolina NAACP leader, took aim at Moore’s values as a Christian, AL.com reported.
“True evangelicalism is not what you say, but what you do and how you challenge the systems of the world,” Barber said.
The Associated Press contributed.
LaVendrick Smith: @LaVendrickS