One of the most puzzling parts of Donald Trump’s improbable rise to the Republican nomination for President in 2015 and 2016, and then his stretch run to the presidency, was how openly evangelical leaders like Jerry Falwell, Jr., Tony Perkins, Franklin Graham, embraced the candidate with a sketchy personal background.
Trump is the first President to enter the White House on his third marriage. But, while divorce itself isn’t a sticking point in society or even among most evangelicals anymore. Trump’s situation is so much different with an entire adult life lived in the pages of Page Six and more rumors and stories than you could count. It was surprising, even after the nomination was secured, how the evangelical right coalesced around Trump.
When the infamous Access Hollywood video hit about a month before the fall election, politicians, Republicans, even Trump’s running mate were jumping off the Trump Train. Those evangelical leaders were oddly quiet. After President Trump’s stunningly dense comments when a white supremacist killed a protestor in Charlottesville, VA, it was Falwell, Jr. who appeared on Sunday morning talk shows to defend the President and his comments.
Stories have surfaced recently about Trump’s alleged affair with a porn star. Many of those evangelical leaders were the first to come to Trump’s defense. “These alleged affairs, they’re alleged with Trump, didn’t happen while he was in office,” Graham told CNN. “This happened 11, 12, 13, 14 years ago. And so, I think there is a big difference and not that we give anybody a pass, but we have to look at the timeline and that was before he was in office.” Perkins was more effusive. “Evangelicals understand what a second chance means,” he said. “He embraced himself in the conservative party platform ever. And yes, evangelical conservatives gave him a mulligan. They let him have a do over.”
Forgiveness is a prime value of Christians. We’re all sinners and all need forgiveness. But, has Donald Trump asked the public for forgiveness? We can’t judge how Trump feels about his past actions. The real question is how can these evangelical leaders continue to blindly defend a man who has blatantly defied their core beliefs?
Why have they sold out their beliefs and followers? Can it be anything other than hypocrisy?
Patrick Pfingsten is an award-winning journalist, political consultant, and PR expert. You can find him on Twitter @pfingsten1 or email him at email@example.com.