Bill Press: Religion flunks morality

Bill Press: Religion flunks morality
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America has lost its soul.

Yes, America has lost its soul, in part, because our religious leaders, whom we count on to keep us on the right path, have let us down. They are either cowards or phonies.

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Consider. Last year there was a candidate for president, the highest office in the land. More than a dozen women, who gave their names, accused him of crimes ranging from sexual harassment to sexual assault to rape. That same candidate was even heard on tape bragging about forcibly kissing women and grabbing them by their genitals.

And what did our esteemed religious leaders do? Nothing. Most cowardly priests and pastors remained silent, refusing to take a stand. Even worse, some endorsed that candidate because, they said, nobody’s perfect. And, besides, he’s anti-abortion. Serial sexual predator Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpBrennan fires new shot at Trump: ‘He’s drunk on power’ Trump aides discussed using security clearance revocations to distract from negative stories: report Trump tried to dissuade Melania from 'Be Best' anti-bullying campaign: report MORE is now president of the United States.

Flash forward. This year there’s a sleazy candidate for U.S. Senate from Alabama. He’s also accused, by nine women, of sexual harassment and sexual assault, back when they were teenagers and he was a grown man. One of them even got him banned from his hometown shopping mall in Gadsden, Ala., for preying on teenage girls.

And what do our religious leaders say? It’s déjà vu, all over again. Some cowards refuse to take a stand: saying it’s up to the people of Alabama to decide. But dozens of others have actually backed Roy Moore, and twisted their phony brand of Christianity in order to somehow justify endorsing an accused pedophile.

Pastor Flip Benham defended Moore’s hitting on teenagers as young as 14 because, when Moore came home from Vietnam, older women were already married. Plus, Benham added, Moore saw another attraction: “There is something about a purity of a young woman, there is something that is good, that’s true, that’s straight and he looked for that.” Yes, this is a so-called pastor speaking.

Another pseudo-religious leader, Gordon Klingenschmitt, head of the group “Pray in Jesus’s Name” turned the tables by accusing Moore’s victims, and not Moore himself, of violating the Ten Commandments: “Thou shalt not bear false witness.” While Alabama State Auditor Jim Ziegler, himself a professed Christian, went so far as to elevate Moore to the ranks of the Holy Family: “Mary was a teenager and Joseph was an adult carpenter. They became parents of Jesus.” Apparently, he forgot that “virgin Mary” part.

You might dismiss these religious leaders as just ignorant country bumpkins from Alabama, but they’re not alone. In the face of accusations of sexual misconduct from multiple women, the Rev. Jerry Falwell Jr., president of Liberty University and America’s leading Evangelical, still stands with Roy Moore the same way he stood with Donald Trump. He told Religion News Service: “I believe the judge is telling the truth.”

With members of the clergy refusing for political purposes to condemn blatantly immoral behavior, how can anybody take organized religion seriously anymore? If religious leaders won’t stand up and condemn both Donald Trump and Roy Moore, religion is nothing but a joke. America has lost its soul.

Press is host of “The Bill Press Show” on Free Speech TV and author of “Buyer’s Remorse: How Obama Let Progressives Down.”