Kayla Moore—the wife of Alabama senate candidate and deeply conservative Christian Roy Moore, currently embroiled in allegations of sexual abuse of minors—posted a letter over the weekend listing 53 Alabama pastors allegedly endorsing the former judge. Given the gravity of the claims made against Moore by several women, the letter appeared to be a remarkable show of support for a figure in the midst of controversy, and was quickly re-published by Alabama media.
But at least four pastors have since come forward to say they did not consent to having their names included in the letter. What’s more, at least one is raising questions about whether it is an edited version of a different endorsement list used during the primaries—before the abuse allegations came to light.
According to AL.com, Tijuanna Adetunji of the Fresh Anointing House of Worship in Montgomery told reporters she was not contacted about the letter before publication and did not give permission to use her name.
“I was not asked about this story or allegations,” Adetunji told Al.com, before asking for her name to be removed from their re-publication of the letter. She and another pastor—“Bishop Fred”—appear to have been removed from the Al.com reposting, although they remain on Kayla Moore’s Facebook post.
Pastor Joseph Smith of Pine Air Baptist Church in Grand Bay also told Alabama Fox affiliate FOX 10 that while he supported Moore in the primary, he no longer supports the candidate and did not agree to include his name on the new list.
Another pastor whose name a church match one listed on letter, Dr. George Grant of Parish Presbyterian Church, does not live in Alabama—his church is located in Franklin, Tennessee. He told local Tennessee new station WSMV that he did not give permission for his name to be on the new list, adding that while he knows Moore, he hasn’t spoken to him in 10 years.
“Not my state. Not my issues,” Grant said of the upcoming Alabama election, in which Moore is running for the U.S. Senate seat vacated by Attorney General Jeff Sessions.
Several have raised questions about the origins of the letter, including Pastor Thad Endicott of Heritage Baptist Church, who asked Al.com that his name be removed from the new list. Endicott pointed to a different letter on Roy Moore’s campaign website published during the Alabama primary—when he says he did support the candidate—that appears to bear similarities to the one Kayla Moore published.
“The list that has recently circulated was evidently copied and pasted from the August endorsements without checking to see if I still endorsed Moore,” Endicott told AL.com
ThinkProgress contacted Roy Moore’s campaign for comment on this story, but did not hear back by press time.
The new revelations also raise questions about the original letter, such as whether Grant—assuming he is the same person as the one listed—ever consented to having his name included in either version.
To be sure, some pastors on the new list continue to vocally support Moore despite the recent child abuse allegations. At least three reiterated their support for Moore to CNN on Monday.
Moore, who has long voiced Christian nationalist views, also continues to enjoy support broadly from evangelical Christian Protestants in the state. One recent poll showed that some evangelicals say they are more likely to support Moore despite recent allegations (28 percent said they were less likely).
Still, questions remain about the new endorsement letter, even among evangelicals. Ed Stetzer, a professor at evangelical Christian school Wheaton College, has called on his Twitter followers to help research the veracity of the list.
1. Is this even a legit list? (It's an undated near-reprint of an earlier list.)
2. There are 12K churches in AL, so (if legit) this is 0.41%.
3. BTW, 6% of ppl think the moon landing was faked.
3. Not one of the largest churches in AL is on the list.
4. Facts are our friends. https://t.co/YygjvJaxAP
— Ed Stetzer (@edstetzer) November 14, 2017
This story may be updated if additional pastors on the list return requests from ThinkProgress to confirm or deny their support.
UPDATE: ThinkProgress reached out to most of the pastors on the list Tuesday. Five responded saying they still endorse Moore: David E. Gonnella, Mike Allison, Earl Wise, Rick Simpson, and Peter Waldron.
Yet most have not replied, and questions remain as to whether the signers were consulted before it was posted. Gonnella and Wise both noted they were either not aware of the new letter or didn’t know that its content had been changed. Meanwhile, Waldron claimed the letter was cleared with him and that he still supports Moore, describing the allegations as “outright lies.” But he also acknowledged that he currently resides in Florida, and only lived in Alabama for “four months.” At least five other signers of the letter also appear to reside in states other than Alabama, despite it being addressed to “friends and fellow Alabamians.”
Ryan Koronowski also contributed to this report.