Alabama Republican Senate Candidate Roy Moore co-authored a study course, published in 2011 and recently obtained by ThinkProgress, that instructs students that women should not be permitted to run for elected office. If women do run for office, the course argues, people have a moral obligation not to vote for them. The course is also critical of the women’s suffrage movement, which in 1920 secured some American women the right to vote.
The course, called “Law and Government: An Introductory Study Course,” includes 28 hours of audio and visual lectures given by Moore and others, as well as a study guide. The course is available for purchase on Amazon, where “Chief Justice Roy Moore” is listed as a co-author alongside Doug Phillips, Dr. Joseph C. Morecraft, and Dr. Paul Jehle.
On the back of the packaging containing all the study course materials, Moore’s name and photo are listed under the words “Featured Speakers.”
The study guide also recommends Moore’s 2009 book “So Help Me God: The Ten Commandments, Judicial Tyranny, and the Battle for Religious Freedom.”
The curriculum was a product of Vision Forum, a now-defunct Texas-based evangelical organization headed by Doug Phillips, which taught “Biblical patriarchy”, a theology that prescribes strict, unequal gender roles for men and women. According a statement on the Vision Forum’s website, “Egalitarian feminism is a false ideology that has bred false doctrine in the church and seduced many believers.”
For at least a decade, dating back to 1999, Moore served on the “faculty” of Vision Forum’s so-called “Witherspoon School of Law and Public Policy.” Not a school at all, Witherspoon was instead a series of four-day crash courses that taught men — and only men — that the Bible is the source of “law and liberty and the only sure foundation for addressing the challenging ethical questions of the twenty-first century.”
Praising a “best of” album of the school’s lectures, Moore said, “I came to share what I have learned and instead received a blessing. All who attend the Witherspoon School of Law and Public Policy have an opportunity to share in the restoration of our Nation — One Nation Under God.”
Moore’s lecture, which is included in the “Law and Government” curriculum, was recorded in 2008 at one such “school”, and hosted and facilitated by Phillips himself. In the speech, Moore recounts his fight over the Ten Commandments monument and bemoans the arrival of marriage equality, which the California Supreme Court had approved two weeks prior.
He also openly praises both Phillips and Vision Forum, saying, “As I think about what’s going on here at Vision Forum and what Doug’s doing and has done, I’m a little envious because I admire Doug and the fact he can round up these young men that are going to make a difference in our nation.”
Vision Forum closed in 2013 after Phillips resigned, having admitted to a “lengthy” and “inappropriately romantic and affectionate” relationship with a woman who was not his wife. Shortly thereafter, that woman, Lourdes Torres-Manteufel, sued Phillips and Vision Forum, detailing an emotionally, psychologically, and sexually abusive relationship that started when she was just 15 years old.
The suit, which was settled and dismissed in 2016, has clear parallels to the many sexual abuse accusations against Moore, which allegedly took place when his accusers were teenagers and he was in his 30s. (Moore has claimed that the allegations against him are “absolutely false.”) Moore’s attorney has stated that, “whether they were 25, 35, or whether he doesn’t know their age”, Moore would always make sure to ask a girl’s parents for permission to date them before beginning any courtship.
That tradition is consistent with the “Biblical patriarchy” tenets outlined by Vision Forum.
“Since daughters are ‘given in marriage’ by their fathers, an obedient daughter will desire her father to guide the process of finding a husband, although the final approval of a husband belongs to her,” the tenets state.
One lecture in the Vision Forum study course on which Moore worked is given by William O. Einwechter, a teaching elder at Immanuel Free Reformed Church. The lecture is titled “What the Bible Says About Female Magistrates.” The lesson argues that the Bible forbids women from holding elected office.
An unidentified man introduces Einwechter’s lesson and criticizes the women’s suffrage movement.
“By and large, the issue of the female magistrate ruling in authority in America would not have been anywhere near as controversial,” the man says. “The controversy was beginning to brew with the women’s suffrage movement.”
The man references the Biblical passage Isaiah 3 as justification for this claim. However, his argument — that it equates to a blanket prohibition of women in leadership positions — is not widely held among Christians.
Many, including acclaimed 17th century Bible commentarian Matthew Henry, instead interpret the passage as metaphorical. Others note earlier translations of the passage (in the Greek Septuagint) do not even include the word “women,” but instead “creditors” — a word with identical consonants in Hebrew, but different vowel points — which also fits with the overall context of the passage.
Regardless, when Einwechter begins his lecture, he asks, “Why even consider a question like this?” The answer, he says, is because of the “heresy of feminism.”
“One of the most destructive ideologies of the last 50, hundred years have been the doctrines of feminism, which have transformed our culture and have paved the way for abortion on demand, the homosexual agenda, undermined our church, and subverted the doctrines of the biblical family,” Einwechter says.
He goes on to call feminism a “radical agenda” and says “nothing enrages feminists more than the Biblical doctrine of male headship.”
“Feminism and those who have been influenced by it advocate instead for what we’re going to call an egalitarian approach,” Einwechter says, “where men and women are touted as being equal in all respects, except maybe the most obvious physical differences, and that they’re equally fit to serve in any occupation or serve in any office or position of leadership in any sphere of life.”
The lesson uses what Einwechter argues are Biblical truths about the roles and design of men and women, arguing that husband, children, and home “summarize God’s definition of the woman.”
“She’s not a warrior. She’s not a judge. She’s a woman. Created by God. Glorious in her place and in her conduct and in her role,” Einwechter says. “Nothing is said in scripture that supports the notion that she is qualified or called to be a civil magistrate.”
This, Einwechter says, is proof that women should not work outside the home, run for office, or take on any role that gives women “dominance” over men, calling women “the weaker vessel.” Women, the lesson teaches, are only fit to be homemakers and should dedicate their lives to their husbands and children, never to work or outside pursuits.
“Sometimes we may have a hard time discerning the faith, the character, and the views of a particular candidate. But we can usually discern if the candidate is a man or a woman. And so there is no excuse on that one,” Einwechter says as he concludes the lecture. “In conclusion, we’ve argued that scripture teaches us that it is not God’s revealed will for a woman to serve as a civil magistrate and thus to rule over men in the civil sphere.”
Einwechter says this is proof that, if Christians aim to follow the teachings of the Bible, they must never vote for women running for office, no matter their politics.
His lecture, Einwechter says, is an “objective study.” In closing, he quotes pastor J. H. Vincent, saying, “The world is in such pressing need for mothers — motherly women — that none can be spared for public life.”
The teaching stands in stark contrast to various Christian groups that hold sharply divergent views. Entire denominations, such as the United Methodist Church, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, Presbyterian Church U.S.A., and the Episcopal Church, ordain women and do not object to female political leadership, as do others. Many evangelical Christians hold similar views: the Republican Party includes passionate female evangelical leaders such as Michele Bachmann and Sarah Palin, and one of Donald Trump’s closest spiritual advisers is Paula White, a female prosperity gospel preacher.
ThinkProgress could not find any record of Moore endorsing any women for office. The only candidate Moore appears to have effectively endorsed is Michael Peroutka, the Constitution party candidate for president in 2004, according a Montgomery Advertiser article from July 2004. Notably, the Constitution party was founded by Howard Phillips, Vision Forum head Doug Phillips’ father.
Spokespersons for Judge Moore’s Senate campaign did not immediately respond to ThinkProgress’ requests for comment.
Special thanks to independent researcher Bruce Wilson.