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In the 1970s, when Moore was in his 30s and reportedly dating teenagers, the laws on child marriage were changing, Syrett said.That's when all states changed their laws so the minimum marital ages were the same for men and women.Easter left her fundamentalist community four years ago, at age 21, after breaking off a relationship with a man her father selected for her.

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As a woman in a fundamentalist Christian church who was expected to remain under her father's roof until he handed her over to her husband, Easter became a "stay-at-home daughter" after high school.

She said she understood the pressure a teenager might feel to marry an older man as a way to gain some measure of independence.

"A woman's role is to be a wife, a homemaker and someone who births children.

The man's role is generally to be established and someone who provides the full income," said Easter, who runs the Courage Conference for survivors of church sexual abuse. While a woman of 15 or 16, if she's been trained for a long time looking after her younger siblings, in their eyes she might be ready for marriage." The culture of courting that Easter and Brightbill described is one limited mostly to fundamentalist religious communities, including certain Christian groups and those of other religions, such as some Orthodox Jewish or Mormon communities.

'Charlotte-Mecklenburg’s proposed new policy allowing students to use opposite-sex restrooms, locker rooms and showers will seriously endanger students’ privacy and safety, undermine parental authority, and severely impair an environment conducive to learning.

"We should probably talk about how there is a segment of evangelicalism and home-school culture where the only thing Roy Moore did wrong was initiating sexual contact outside of marriage.

14 year old girls courting adult men isn't entirely uncommon," Kathryn Brightbill, who works for the Coalition for Responsible Home Education, tweeted Friday, prompting a flurry of responses from other people who also had watched teenagers date much older Christian men.

Ashley Easter, who grew up in a fundamentalist Baptist church where courting was the norm for teenagers, said, "That was the first thing I thought of with Roy Moore." In her church community in Lynchburg, Virginia, Easter said, fathers had complete control over whom their daughters were allowed to date, and she could see how a father might set his teen daughter up with a much older man.

"In the South, in general, younger marriages would have been more common. It may have happened in some occasional context, but it would not have been a cultural norm." He said the reaction of most Southern evangelical communities would be "extraordinarily negative. He said he's not sure what to make of the report about Moore, and he's not sure whether he'll vote for him. "I like to give people the benefit of the doubt and say let's see what the truth is." He said he wants to talk to Moore and his Democratic opponent, Doug Jones, and then send his personal conclusion to his email list of 3 million evangelical Alabama voters.

For most of them, a relationship such as the ones Moore is reported to have pursued with teens is far beyond the norm. Even "Duck Dynasty" star Phil Robertson, a conservative Christian who married his wife when he was 20 and she was 16, caused a firestorm years ago for advising men, "You got to marry these girls when they are about 15 or 16." Easter said she experienced this courtship culture herself.

Evangelical leaders' responses to the allegations that came out this week ranged widely, from Ed Stetzer, who wrote in Christianity Today, "If Roy Moore did what he is accused of, he should be out of this race and face the consequences," to Jerry Falwell Jr., who said to Religion News Service, "It comes down to a question who is more credible in the eyes of the voters - the candidate or the accuser," and added, "I believe the judge is telling the truth." Most prominent evangelical pastors did not immediately reflect publicly on whether the evangelical culture Moore embraced in Alabama contributed to his pursuit of teenage girls.

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