Why is it so difficult for some people to just admit that sexual assault is bad?

President Donald Trump’s evangelical base seems to have a particularly hard time with this. Amid allegations that Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh sexually assaulted Christine Blasey Ford several decades ago, it has become clear that prominent evangelical leaders will do whatever it takes to trivialize such an incident in the name of political and patriarchal power.

Franklin Graham, son of the late evangelical leader Billy Graham, said publicly that whether or not Kavanaugh is a rapist is “irrelevant” to the nomination because “they were teenagers” and it shouldn’t be held against him.

This is not the first time the younger Graham has publicly endorsed and defended someone accused of or found guilty of sexual assault. His endorsement and defense of Alabama Republican Roy Moore, a man accused of sexual misconduct by several women, solidifies a pattern of Graham endorsing public officials who move forward his political agendas.

Graham’s notion that someone’s age mitigates sexual assault or that the trauma of an assault has a time limit reflects the double standard that evangelical churches operate with: Teenagers (and all unmarried women, really) shouldn’t be having sex, and if they do, they deserve whatever harm or stigma comes their way.

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