By all rights, the religious right should have thrown Walker to the curb on Oct. 4: hours after one of Walker’s former girlfriends told The Daily Beast that the rabidly anti-choice Walker had paid her to get an abortion, his son Christian tore him to shreds on Twitter.
Christian not only called out his father for the hypocrite that he was, but revealed that he and his mother had suffered horrifying abuse at Herschel’s hands. You would have thought that this would have been enough for the religious right, especially given the beating that evangelicals have taken over their worse-than-inadequate response to domestic violence and sexual assault. Oh no. Not a single prominent evangelical leader disavowed Walker.
It was one thing for them to stand by Walker despite numerous instances on the campaign trail in which it should have been obvious to anyone without formal training that he was dangerously unstable. After all, he was not only diagnosed with dissociative identity disorder, formerly known as multiple personality disorder, but he publicly stated that he’s overcome it. While one can manage the disorder, it’s not possible to fully “be cured.”
But for the religious right to stand with Walker even after Christian came forward is beyond comprehension. Christian was the personification of every kid who was betrayed, abused, and/or abandoned by their father and finally reached a breaking point after holding his pain in for years.
I seethed even more after NBC News reported on a number of Black conservatives in Georgia who weren’t backing off their support for Walker even after his depravities came to light. They all claimed that all that mattered to them was replacing Sen. Raphael Warnock.
As a longtime religious right watcher, I’ve learned to focus my anger on the leaders, not the rank and file. Republican consultant Kaaryn Burton Walker said that what Walker may have done was “messy” and “didn’t matter.” And former Republican House candidate Mykel Barthelemy claimed she was opposed to “anything that is immoral or goes against God,” and believed getting Walker in the Senate would prevent the country from “spiraling.”
This angered me on a personal level, because, like Christian, I was betrayed by my father. While Walker’s betrayal involved crimes of commission, my father committed crimes of omission. He refused to switch from night shift to day shift, even though my mother was a teacher and he had two sons at home—meaning that my parents only saw each other a few hours out of the week when school was in session. It turned out he was staying on nights to facilitate cheating on my mother. In other words, he all but abandoned his duties as a husband and a father.
When I saw the comments from Walker and Barthelemy, I tried to imagine if my father were running for office, and I had come forward about his cheating. Imagine hearing people say that all that mattered was getting a seat, no matter what my father would have done. They would have essentially been giving me the finger—just like these so-called Black role models essentially gave Christian.
If ending abortion is that important, it’s even more proof that I didn’t leave the anti-choice movement in 2011, but it left me. It’s also why I’m not sure if I was ever part of it. If a cause is so important that we have to back a dangerously unstable man who is an unrepentant abuser in order to further it, is it really just?
Fortunately, the people of Georgia saw through this game. Warnock came within a few thousand votes of winning a second term outright. Under the circumstances, Walker would have needed almost all of the Libertarian candidate’s voters to cross over to him. For that reason, I knew on election night that Warnock was going to win the runoff, barring a total collapse.
One thing that ought to collapse, though, is the religious right’s claim to the moral high ground. After all, if a reprobate like Walker is still worthy of support even after he has been exposed as a reprobate, then there is no longer any doubt: The religious right has been taking evangelicals for a ride.