On Thursday, Alabama's Republican state auditor Jim Zeigler responded to allegations that former Chief Justice Roy Moore molested a 14-year-old girl by comparing the coupling of then-32-year-old Moore with a teen girl to the union of Mary and Joseph from the Bible.
"Take Joseph and Mary. Mary was a teenager and Joseph was an adult carpenter. They became parents of Jesus," Zeigler said to The Washington Examiner. "There's just nothing immoral or illegal here. Maybe just a little bit unusual."
According the Washington Post, some religious leaders strenuously objected to the comparison.
"Bringing Joseph and Mary into a modern-day molestation accusation, where a 32-year-old prosecutor is accused of molesting a 14-year-old girl, is simultaneously ridiculous and blasphemous," said Wheaton College pastor Ed Stetzer. "Even those who followed ancient marriage customs, which we would not follow today, knew the difference between molesting and marriage."
Rev. Amy Butler of the interdenominational Riverside Church in New York City said, "Women were chattel back then, they were traded - of course they married men who were much older and had multiple wives. It's completely ludicrous to equate the sex assault of a minor with an ancient culture. It's ludicrous... It makes me want to rip the church back from these people."
Friendly Atheist blogger Hemant Mehta wrote, "Here’s a thought. If you want to defend Roy Moore against allegations that he inappropriately touched a girl when she was only 14 (and he was 32), you could start by saying that sort of contact is absolutely unacceptable."
Moore was accused of making sexual advances toward a then-14-year-old girl and three other teens in a bombshell Washington Post story on Thursday. Some Republicans have attempted to defend the twice-ousted Alabama Chief Justice while others have called for him to drop out of the race for U.S. Senate if the allegations are true.