One of the strangest occurrences in the 2016 election is how the fundie Christian Right chose to support Donald Trump, of all people, over one of their own in the GOP primary. What is even more difficult to believe is that many of them are standing by Trump even after the revelations of the past week.
The leaders of the fundie Christian Right have pledged their fealty to Donald Trump (hmmm, I’m pretty sure this violates the first two Commandments somehow). ‘Still the best candidate’: Some evangelicals still back Trump despite lewd video:
Ralph Reed, a conservative Christian activist and the head of Trump’s religious advisory board, said that as the father of two daughters, he was disappointed by the “inappropriate” comments. “But people of faith are voting on issues like who will protect unborn life, defend religious freedom, grow the economy, appoint conservative judges and oppose the Iran nuclear deal,” he said in an email. “I think a 10-year-old tape of a private conversation with a TV talk show host ranks pretty low on their hierarchy of their concerns,” he said.
* * *
David Brody from the Christian Broadcasting Network tweeted, “This just in: Donald Trump is a flawed man! We ALL sin every single day. What if we had a ‘hot mic’ around each one of us all the time?”
Tony Perkins, who leads the conservative Family Research Council, did not back down from his personal support of Trump. “As I have made clear, my support for Donald Trump in the general election was never based upon shared values rather it was built upon shared concerns,” Perkins said in an email the Post. Perkins cited issues such as the Supreme Court, national security and religious freedom concerns[.]
Similarly, Pat Robertson from the Christian Broadcasting Network, Pat Robertson calls lewd video ‘macho talk’, and Jerry Falwell, Jr. sniff at Trump’s remarks and lack of moral character. ‘We’re all sinners’: Jerry Falwell Jr defends Donald Trump after video of lewd remarks.
And then there is this revealing interview on CNN of Arizona’s anti-abortion crusader Rep. Trent Franks, who founded the Arizona Family Research Institute, affiliated with James Dobson’s Focus on the Family. Arizona congressman: Trump’s lewd comments nothing compared to Clinton’s policies:
“Donald Trump’s words degraded and insulted women in the most flagrant possible way, and yet Hillary Clinton’s policy is to allow the murder of a half a million little tiny women every year,” the Arizona congressman said in an interview with CNN’s Erin Burnett on “Erin Burnett OutFront.”
Burnett asked Franks to clarify his contrast of Trump’s ‘vulgar’ words with Clinton’s policies. “What policies has she put forth that would support assault?” Burnett asked Franks.
“The left has coarsened this culture in every way imaginable,” Franks said.
“It’s okay for adult men to walk into little girl’s restrooms. It’s okay to stand by with a golf club in your hand and watch ISIS sell little 6 year-old girls into slavery for 50 cents. It’s okay to kill your unborn children or even your born children if it happens that way, and it’s okay to marry your horse. But somehow when that manifests in a presidential campaign, all of a sudden the left feigns this outrage. And I think it’s them that started in the first place.”
Burnett continued to press Rep. Franks on whether he thought Clinton’s pro-choice policies were equivalent to Trump’s 2005 comments about groping women’s genitals.
“It’s the difference between degrading and insulting and the difference between life and death,” Franks said.
So for these fundies, there are only two issues that “trump” all others: their anti-abortion fetus fetish, and a vacancy on the U.S. Supreme Court. They want to overturn Roe v. Wade in the worst way, and re-criminalize abortion.
Not all fundies agree with this narrow worldview. The evangelical magazines Christianity Today and World recently blasted Trump. Evangelical magazines decry Trump: ‘Someone who violates all that is sacred to us’:
[T]wo major magazines of evangelical Christianity are blasting the Republican presidential nominee — and criticizing the Christians who vote for him.
“Enthusiasm for a candidate like Trump gives our neighbors ample reason to doubt that we believe Jesus is Lord,” Christianity Today editorial director Andy Crouch wrote in an editorial published Monday. “They see that some of us are so self-interested, and so self-protective, that we will ally ourselves with someone who violates all that is sacred to us.”
Christianity Today was founded by evangelist Billy Graham in 1956 and today serves as a major voice of evangelicals, who make up more than a quarter of the U.S. population.
* * *
World, a more conservative Christian magazine, declared in an editorial on Tuesday evening that Trump should drop out of the race for the moral good of the nation. “We know our suggestion that Trump step aside will dismay many of his evangelical supporters, for whom we have high regard,” the editorial said.
Donald Trump has had the most dramatic negative impact in the Mormon Corridor, especially in the state of Utah. Utah’s Top Mormons in ‘All-Out Revolt’ Against Donald Trump:
As Republicans across the country contend with the fallout from a newly released recording in which Donald J. Trump made vulgar and sexually degrading comments about women, perhaps nowhere was reaction more swift and decisive than in Utah, home to a sizable Mormon population already deeply unsettled by a sense of the candidate’s moral shortcomings.
Within hours of the video’s release on Friday, a number of top Republican officials in the state yanked their endorsements, including Gov. Gary Herbert, a Mormon, who declared Mr. Trump’s statements “beyond offensive and despicable.” Representative Jason Chaffetz, who is also Mormon, said that if he voted for Mr. Trump he would no longer be able to look his 15-year-old daughter in the eye.
On Saturday, the Deseret News, a media outlet owned by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, broke with an 80-year tradition of refraining from presidential endorsements to publish an editorial calling on Mr. Trump to step aside.
“We prefer to stand for something rather than against someone,” Deseret’s editorial board wrote. “But this is one of those rare moments where it is necessary to take a clear stand against the hucksterism, misogyny, narcissism and latent despotism that infect the Trump campaign.”
* * *
[T]he scale of the rebellion by Utah Republicans against their party’s presidential candidate is practically unheard-of, said Chris Karpowitz, a director of Brigham Young University’s Center for the Study of Elections and Democracy. Almost the entire congressional delegation has vowed not to vote for Mr. Trump in November.
“The Republican establishment in the state of Utah is in all-out revolt against the Trump candidacy,” Mr. Karpowitz said. “I don’t think we’ve ever seen that before.”
* * *
The outrage among Utah conservatives over the recording has allowed Democrats to begin to contemplate what was once unthinkable: taking the state for Mrs. Clinton in November. The hope is that disaffected Republicans will abandon Mr. Trump and split their votes between two third-party candidates: Gary Johnson of the Libertarian Party and Evan McMullin, a former C.I.A. official who is a Mormon.
Mrs. Clinton has opened a campaign office in Utah, something that no Democratic candidate has done in decades, said Peter Corroon, the state’s Democratic Party chairman.
“Trump will be losing votes,” Mr. Corroon said. “Where those votes go is yet to be determined.”
A new poll out of Utah today shows Trump’s support crumbling, and Clinton in a tie. New poll: As Trump crumbles in Utah, Clinton holds firm and McMullin rises:
Independent Evan McMullin is surging in Utah and Donald Trump is falling in the days after the release of a video showing the Republican presidential nominee bragging that because he is a star he can grope women without their consent.
A new poll by the Utah firm Y2 Analytics found Trump and Democrat Hillary Clinton tied at 26 percent, while McMullin came in at 22 percent, a statistical tie among the three candidates. Libertarian Gary Johnson received 14 percent, roughly on par with where he has been in past surveys.
[S]ome top Utah Republican leaders are abandoning their party’s presidential nominee. Among them: Gov. Gary Herbert, Sen. Mike Lee and Reps. Jason Chaffetz and Mia Love.
The Y2 poll found 55 percent of all respondents supported their move, though Republicans are split, with 46 percent saying they should reject Trump and 46 percent saying they should continue to back him.
“It seems that Republicans are in an internal civil war here in Utah,” said Scott Riding, a pollster with Y2 Analytics, who was not paid by a client to conduct the poll.
Utah has long been a guaranteed Republican win, but not in 2016.
The Salt Lake City Tribune today endorsed Hillary Clinton for president. Editorial: In the end, Hillary Clinton is the only qualified candidate, and the best choice:
Utah Republicans were perceptive enough to reject Trump in their March presidential caucus voting. Were they to support Clinton now, even by the narrowest of pluralities, it would send a strong message to the Republican Party to turn their backs on Trumpism and to work with Clinton where they can, rather than devote themselves to blocking her every move.
Ronald Reagan believed that conservatism was a three-legged stool consisting of religious conservatives, national security conservatives, and economic/libertarian conservatives. Donald Trump has cleaved one leg of the stool, the Christian Right. No stool can stand on two legs.
Collin Hansen, editorial director for the Gospel Coalition, writes for the Acts of Faith column at the Washington Post, This is the last spastic breath from the Religious Right before its overdue death (excerpts):
Younger evangelicals and former evangelicals have taken note. An aspiring president of the United States can brag about sexually assaulting women and still claim the backing of many if not most of the older stalwarts in the Religious Right.
Trump can maintain nearly all his evangelical support in the voting booth despite unrepentant lying and cheating. But these same leaders still insist on a traditional, biblical ethic when it comes to views on same-sex marriage in evangelical ministries.
* * *
To the older evangelicals planning to vote for Trump: You can try to explain the difference in electing a president and hiring a 23-year-old college graduate to evangelize students. You can say we’re electing a commander in chief and not a Sunday school teacher. You can say that God often raises up pagan leaders to deliver his people from their enemies. But no one is fooled by your arguments.
They can see you will apparently excuse anything in a Republican nominee so long as the alternative is a manifestly unqualified Clinton. And they will conclude that they don’t really need to listen to you when it comes to “traditional, biblical ethics.”
I know older evangelicals want to pass along a traditional, biblical ethic to the next generation. So do I. God’s Word is good for human flourishing yesterday, today and forever. Especially on college campuses, young Christians come under tremendous pressure to compromise their beliefs, either to find acceptance among peers or to escape the strict demands of chastity or both.
Can we not see, though, how older evangelicals are likewise tempted? Does aging past 50 suddenly deliver Christians from the need to fit in among their peers in the country club or diner? Can we not see how the church’s failure to discipline and teach against divorce and racism has orphaned so many youth who don’t know if they can trust their elders to do the hard thing when God demands it?
The 2016 presidential election will be remembered as the last spasm of energy from the Religious Right before its overdue death.
* * *
Hypocrisy is not about failing to live up to your standards. Hypocrisy is about teaching something you don’t actually believe.
Grace abounds for Christians who fall short of the glory of God and call on the name of Jesus for forgiveness and salvation. But woe to the hypocrites who hold the most powerful leader in the world to a lower standard than they do the searching young believer who desires to serve God and neighbor.