‘A spiritual battle:’ How Roy Moore tested white evangelical allegiance to the Republican Party

Source: The Washington Post

 December 13 at 6:00 AM

U.S. Senate candidate Roy Moore (R) leaves the stage after speaking at the RSA activity center in Montgomery, Ala., on Dec. 12. (Mike Stewart/AP)

Roy Moore’s failed run for Alabama’s Senate seat tested white evangelicals’ allegiance to the Republican Party. Would they vote for a candidate who shares their conservative views on social issues even though he was accused of sexual misconduct by multiple women?

Exit polls suggest they did just that, with 80 percent of white evangelicals who voted selecting Moore in Tuesday’s special election, which was narrowly won by Doug Jones, the Democratic candidate.

Part of Moore’s campaign strategy was to appeal to Christian nationalism — the belief that God has a uniquely Christian purpose for the United States. It has long made him a polarizing figure nationwide but has also kept him popular in his own state.

Andrew Whitehead, a sociologist at Clemson University in South Carolina who studies Christian nationalism, said evangelicals are the religious group most likely to identify with Christian nationalism. Alabama has one of the highest percentages of white evangelicals, and, he said, more than half of Southerners identify with a Christian nationalist narrative.

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