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?
Preliminary exit polls suggest they did just that, with 81 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 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.
“The view is that God can use anybody as long as they’re promoting Christian nationalist or ideals or values,” Whitehead said. “It’s all about a quest for power and what serves the purpose in the political moment.”