Following Democrat Doug Jones' win over Republican candidate Roy Moore in the Alabama Senate race, a number of conservative and evangelical leaders took to social media to weigh in on the surprise victory.
On Tuesday night, Jones became the first Democrat to win a statewide office in Alabama since 2008, defeating Moore, 49.9% to 48.4%, in a special election to fill the Senate seat held by Jeff Sessions. Reuters notes that Democrats haven't won a Senate race in Alabama since 1992.
Jones' win in the deeply red state came as a shock to many, as he campaigned on liberal values, opposing, for example, the Hyde Amendment, which prevents federal funding for abortion. He is also both pro-choice and pro-LGBT rights.
However, throughout his campaign, Moore, a former state judge, faced allegations he made sexual advances on teenagers when he was in his 30s, though he denied the accusations. Moore has declined to concede defeat, calling for an automatic recount.
"Realize that when the vote is this close that it's not over," he said. "We also know that God is always in control."
Here are the reactions of four evangelical leaders to the Alabama Senate results.
Kay Warren, wife of Saddleback Church pastor Rick Warren, tweeted: "We live in desperately dark times when our choice is between a man accused of pedophilia and a man who supports abortion of near full-term babies."
Al Mohler, American historical theologian and the ninth president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, called the election a "huge political earthquake," pointing out that that the results were surprising given Jones' extremely liberal politics. However, since the 2016 presidential election, many people have been questioning how "the issue of conviction and character, policy and person would come together in the political equation."
The test came to head in Alabama, when Moore was accused of sexual misconduct. This made a "decisive difference," Mohler said, explaining that many Christians - and women in particular - refused to vote in this election.
"They could not vote for a pro-abortion candidate...but they would not vote for a Republican in the form of Roy Moore," he said, adding that very few pastors and evangelical leaders publicly supported Moore, whereas President Trump had the backing of many Christian figures.
Either way it turned out, the 2017 Alabama race would have been a "disaster," Mohler said.
"There is one less predictably reliably pro-life vote in the US senate, there is one less republican vote in terms of confirming judges and other very important constitutional responsibilities invested in the senate," he said. "The great disaster comes down on the single question of abortion. On the question of abortion, Alabama has now elected a US who is not only pro-abortion, but radically so."
However, electing Roy Moore would have been a "moral disaster" for Alabama, he said.
Following the news of Moore's defeat, author and evangelist Beth Moore tweeted:
"Little girls, there's hope on the horizon tonight for a land where you can grow up to be big girls. Strong girls. Seen girls. Heard girls who know how to stand up tall, throw your shoulders back, lift your chins high and loudly say... NO," she wrote.
She later clarified that she is not "rejoicing over either win or loss."
"To me this is not about candidates. It's about the character of believers faced with terribly hard choices. What I am encouraged by is that there were many people unwilling to dredge their win out of the sludge. It's a start," Moore wrote.
"I get it. I'm prolife too. But we are now faced with a powerful poignant challenge: to place our trust steadfastly & ferociously in God & pray our hearts out for a plummeting in abortion, believing God to show his mighty saving hand. Prayer works. There's nothing He can't do," she added.
Moore later tweeted a link to an article titled "Why Consent Isn't All There Is to It," speaking against sexual abuse in society.
Former governor of Arkansas and Christian minister Mike Huckabee, who initially endorsed Moore, encouraged the former judge to "exit with class."
"Roy Moore won't concede; says will wait on God to speak. God wasn't registered to vote in AL but the ppl who voted did speak and it wasn't close enough for recount. In elections everyone does NOT get a trophy," Huckabee tweeted early Wednesday morning.
"I know first hand but it's best to exit with class," the former Republican presidential candidate wrote.