Christian Evangelicals and Trump | William R. Black & John Fea

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talking about the rabid Pro Trumper you
know the
you know the poll of whites of the world
Paula white I think firmly believes that
he’s a Christian and and God is using
him as a Christian to carry out you know
the purposes of the gospel or the church
in the world there’s others for example
someone like Robert Jeffress from the
pastor of the First Baptist Church in
Dallas or even Franklin Graham the son
of the evangelist Billy Clayton
evangelist Billy Graham who would say
sure Trump has his problem sure Trump is
a sinner I don’t know if Trump has
accepted Jesus as his Savior or not but
God like Cyrus God uses imperfect people
to carry out his plan so so they would
say it really does you know they would
say really doesn’t matter whether
Trump’s a Christian or not he is faith
friendly and God is using him in this
kind of incredible way God uses sinners
and God uses you know people who you
know have these corrupt lives or immoral
eyes to carry out his purposes God’s
ways are not our ways would be the
arguing and while we well we would think
that it should be a godly Christian
leader to help us sometimes God has
other plans would be the idea here so so
you get you got a kind of mixed mixed
views on that depending on which pro
Trump evangelical you talk to but you
know and I minded I grew up hearing a
lot of people who were evangelicals
saying something those basically the
reverse about Jimmy Carter were there
where they would completely grant that
Jimmy Carter was was a you know and
devout then but even even argue that he
was a bad president because he was a
good Christian to be a good president
because he was done you know kick ass
and take names I guess I don’t know
you’ve encountered during Carter Carter
is interesting because evangelicals did
flock to him in 1976 you know he might
stop supporting that just ants they
voted for Carter in 76 and 80
I mean an aphid errol’s Ford
seventy-six claimed to be some kind of
an evangelical Christian too so that’s
very interesting but the Carter was so
kind of authentic right he he he talked
about being born again
even his even his uh even his statement
about like being tempted to lust from
you know from women you know was was it
appealed to certain evangelicals right
you know that this guy’s honest truly he
meant they knew at length nobody and I
think I think what happened was when
Carter several things I mean one just
you know you can’t count out the economy
you know the recession and so forth also
Carter just did not deliver on the
things that evangelicals hoped he would
we talked earlier about the green calmly
to Bob Jones case Jimmy Carter supported
to Bob the supreme court on that he
wanted to desegregate these academies
and this this you know there was
opposition that emerged almost
immediately to Carter when it didn’t
look like he would deliver on abortion
overturn roe v– wade you know try to
try to try to keep the keep the
segregation in place in these academies
so uh you know this is where Falwell and
others so many of you know the story
many our listeners will own story this
is where Falwell and others kind of say
no we thought this guy was was one you
know was going to help our moral cause
and he doesn’t seem to be doing it so uh
so yeah Carter’s a car is a fascinating
character I think it’s probably you know
it’s probably true to say the fact that
he tried to actually live out a kind of
authentic evangelicalism probably did uh
you know hurt his his presidency I mean
he has that famous 1979 malaise speech
in wrench you know he says we are a
nation that is self-centered selfish we
only care about each other we don’t
think about the common good you know and
then Reagan comes in and just says you
know do whatever you want right
individualism freedom right you know
freedom of religion they love these
kinds of things no I felt this message
of self-discipline that Carter puts
forth which you know is this
authentically Christian message but you
know that’s I think
says a lot about the evangelical
electorate as well I have one more
question that you will wrap up but I I
know you know there’s been debates in
the Democratic Party about you know
what’s the right calculus to to defeat
Trump in 2020 and you know one sidebar
in that debate is how much should they
try and win over people who voted for
Trump yeah yeah and a part of that is
you know it is it worth trying to talk
to some evangelicals to vote for Trump
and to appeal to them you know appeal to
their values there professor
what do you think about that yeah yeah I
mean I wrote a whole book about this so
I hope yours I hope there’s a
possibility but I see I see those
eighty-one percent as as very you know
there’s there’s diversity within that 81
percent one of the things I worry about
with this with the media is that they
don’t see the diversity of 81 percent
that 81 percent includes the rabid Trump
supporters who are evangelicals the
people who go to the rallies the people
who supported this guy in the primaries
when there were other options
the GOP primaries the people who wear
the manga hats you know I mean there’s a
lot of Evangelicals you know I remember
I remember when Trump came to Harrisburg
Pennsylvania I’m watching the news
coverage on it at night you know local
news coverage and you know I see like
four or five people from my church in
line my evangelical church in line right
so there’s that group what I found after
doing close to 20 or 30 book talks and
and I’m on the road a lot with this book
is that many of those people are just
not going to be convinced by kind of
rational arguments you know politics is
often so much emotional and and and it’s
just gonna be hard to convince those
people however there’s a large large
number and I don’t know what the
percentage is but but I also find
there’s a large number who just don’t
like Donald Trump they wish
they didn’t have to vote for him they
hated Hillary Clinton even more they
were they they kind of walked the line
between not voting for the president and
voting for Trump right or voting for a
third party candidate and voting for
Trump and they decided that they were
going to vote for Trump it’s those kind
of people that I hope my book is going
to reach you know and get them to sort
of rethink you know especially in light
of everything that’s happened since
Trump’s been elected all of the kind of
misogyny and racist Arbenz a comet if
charlottesville he has an awful
immigration policy and so forth on the
other hand you can’t count out the
economy right the economy is doing
really really well a lot of youth
angelica’s may not vote on moral issues
they may vote on economic issues in 2020
but when you think about it this way
right you don’t need too many
evangelicals to have their minds changed
for for for a Democrat to win in 2020 I
mean Hillary won by three million votes
the popular vote so so you know in
places like Pennsylvania which you know
where we saw in the 2018 midterms we saw
mostly Democratic candidates being
elected governor senator the the conquer
Congress seats almost all many of them
flipped to Democrat you know place like
Michigan and Wisconsin you don’t need
too many votes to turn those states back
towards a Democratic candidate so I’m
not you know I’m kind of you know a lot
of people are saying well if the
economy’s good Trump’s gonna win again
I’m not entirely convinced about that at
least if you can turn some evangelicals
you know you might you might have a
chance to knock him off in 2020 well
here’s here’s a question then if if the
Democrats have a nominee who is more
likable than Hillary Clinton yeah do you
think at least there’ll be sizeable you
know statistically significant number
vocals who will at
perhaps not vote for the Democrat but
feel like they don’t have to vote for
yeah Hillary Clinton is a problem with
the problem for white conservative
evangelicals for two reasons one is one
is one as she represents everything
about sort of what white evangelicals
see as progressivism right pretty
pro-choice not doing much to defend
Christian values religious liberty
particularly marriage you know she’s big
government and so forth any Democratic
candidate that runs is going to have
those same problems with white
evangelicals unless it’s like a pro-life
democrat right that’s like Bob Casey
from Pennsylvania runs who completely
who evangelicals backed over Rick
Santorum right and then drove Rick
Santorum out this is my home state so I
know these races pretty well the other
problem the other problem white
evangelicals had with Hillary Clinton
was that she was Hillary Clinton you
know the baggage going back to the bill
scandals with Monica Lewinsky going back
to the lying the you know she’s saying
right-wing conspiracy and blah blah blah
the deplorable slide you know nobody
Clinton made a lot of mistakes among
white evangelicals I don’t think I don’t
think if she corrected those mistakes
she would have won over many white
evangelicals to her side but she may
have turned some white evangelicals away
from Donald Trump towards a third party
candidate or towards just not voting in
the presidential election so you know
we’ll see what happens you could have a
Democrat who and if it’s a traditional
Democrat on the moral questions that
Emma Jellico’s hold dear in 2020 I just
I think I think they’re still gonna
they’re not gonna vote for that Democrat
but because it’s not Hillary Clinton
they may say well we could put up with
this guy or this one as opposed to you
know their four years of Trump I heard
something you said this but someone
compared Hillary Clinton’s sort of
relationship as a cultural icon to the
women’s rights movement to Jesse
Jackson’s relationship to the civil
and the argument was that in the same
way that Jesse Jackson couldn’t become
president because of just all the
baggage that comes with being part of
that generation yeah someone from the
second generation like Obama didn’t have
that package
yeah next woman right is the argument
that I’ve heard from women’s rights
movement but not be associated with all
the baggage came with having to fight
that fight yeah no no six or seven yeah
yeah no it’s there’s probably some truth
to that we’ll see you know I don’t know
how many women candidates are out there
you hear about come out Kamala Harris
Kristin Gillibrand I mean you know we’ll
see what happens I’m not sure well I I
forgot to mention the start but I will
plug you are you run a great blog that’s
also the title of your first book and
the title of your podcast which is right
the way of improvement leads home which
what’s the URL is it way of improvement
way of improvement calm way of
improvement calm or no that’s instead
Zealand yes I encourage people check out
your blog your podcast and you tweet at
John fear one john thea one yep jo hn f
EI one yeah and i tweet at william are
black and in your book believe me the
evangelical road to Donald Trump would
be a good stocking stuffer when you have
those conversations at Christmas right I
did a promo for the book on I tweeted I
said you just got done with these
conversations over Thanks
giving with your pro-trump evangelical
friends and you wish you had some more
arguments for when Christmas or the
December holidays come around right get
this book you have a month to read it in
preparation for Christmas dinner or
whatever it might be well thanks for
coming on I love to have you on again
sometime and great thanks for having me
bill thank you

It’s Now Donald Trump’s America. But George Bush’s Stamp Endures.

Arguably, that moment proved a precursor to this one as conservatives angry at his apostasy, led by a onetime backbench congressman from Georgia named Newt Gingrich, rose to power within the Republican Party and toppled the old establishment. The harder-edged Gingrich revolution in some ways foreshadowed Mr. Trump’s extraordinary takeover of the party.

Mr. Meacham said the current world of cable talk and relentless partisanship took shape during Mr. Bush’s era. “He saw it all coming, and he didn’t like it,” he said.

Mark K. Updegrove, the author of “The Last Republicans,” about the two Bush presidencies, said, “In so many ways, Bush was the antithesis of the Republican leadership we see today.” He embodied, Mr. Updegrove added, “the

  • humility,
  • civility and
  • self-sacrifice

of the best of the World War II generation. He played tough but fair, making friends on both sides of the aisle and rejecting the notion of politics as a zero-sum game.”

.. For all of the condolences and tributes pouring in to the Bush home in Houston from every corner of the world on Saturday, Mr. Trump’s very presidency stands as a rebuke to Mr. Bush. Never a proponent of “kinder and gentler” politics, Mr. Trump prefers a brawl, even with his own party. The “new world order” of free-trade, alliance-building internationalism that Mr. Bush championed has been replaced by Mr. Trump’s “America First” defiance of globalism.

.. Mr. Trump has demonstrated that he sees the go-along-to-get-along style that defined Mr. Bush’s presidency as inadequate to advance the nation in a hostile world. Gentility and dignity, hallmarks of Mr. Bush, are signs of weakness to Mr. Trump. In his view, Mr. Bush’s version of leadership left the United States exploited by allies and adversaries, whether on economics or security.

.. Mr. Bush was, in effect, president of the presidents’ club, the father of one other commander in chief and the father figure to another, Bill Clinton. Jimmy Carter always appreciated that Mr. Bush’s administration treated him better than Ronald Reagan’s or Mr. Clinton’s, while Barack Obama expressed admiration for the elder Mr. Bush when he ran for the White House.

.. Mr. Obama was among the last people to see Mr. Bush alive.

.. “What the hell was that, by the way, thousand points of light?” Mr. Trump asked scornfully at a campaign rally in Great Falls, Mont., in July. “What did that mean? Does anyone know? I know one thing: Make America great again, we understand. Putting America first, we understand. Thousand points of light, I never quite got that one.”

.. “It’s so easy to be presidential,” Mr. Trump said at a campaign rally in Wheeling, W.Va. “But instead of having 10,000 people outside trying to get into this packed arena, we’d have about 200 people standing right there. O.K.? It’s so easy to be presidential. All I have to do is ‘Thank you very much for being here, ladies and gentlemen. It’s great to see you off — you’re great Americans. Thousand points of light.’ Which nobody has really figured out.”

.. In 1988, when Mr. Bush was seeking the presidency, Mr. Trump offered himself as a running mate. Mr. Bush never took the idea seriously, deeming it “strange and unbelievable,”

.. “I don’t know much about him, but I know he’s a blowhard. And I’m not too excited about him being a leader.” Rather than being motivated by public service, Mr. Bush said, Mr. Trump seemed to be driven by “a certain ego.”

People don’t vote for what they want. They vote for who they are.

You remember the photo, taken in early August, of two men at an Ohio Trump rally whose matching T-shirts read, “I’d rather be a Russian than a Democrat.” (Now you can buy them online for $14.) It was a gibe that spoke to our moment. The Republican brand — as with presidential nominees John McCain and Mitt Romney — used to be pointedly anti-Russian; Romney called Moscow our chief global enemy. In the Trump era, though, you can be a Republican Russophile for whom Vladi­mir Putin is a defender of conservative values. American politics, it has become plain, is driven less by ideological commitments than by partisan identities — less by what we think than by what we are. Identity precedes ideology.

“The Democratic Party today is divided over whether it wants to focus on the economy or identity,”

.. So does the assumption that the great majority of Republicans who support Trump are drawn to his noxious views. (That’s the good news in the bad news.) Among candidates who led in the Republican primaries, after all, his percentage of the vote was the lowest in nearly half a century.

.. Identity groups come to rally behind their leaders, and partisan identification wouldn’t be so stable if it didn’t allow for a great deal of ideological flexibility. That’s why rank-and-file Republicans could go from “We need to stand up to Putin!” to “Why wouldn’t we want to get along with Putin?” in the time it takes to say: Rubio’s out, Trump’s in.

.. The best predictor of ideological animus, the study found, wasn’t a respondent’s opinions or even how strongly she held them, but what label she embraced, conservative or liberal.

.. Mason calls this “identity-based ideology,” as opposed to “issue-based ideology.”

.. Either formulation is a polite way of saying that political cleavages are not so much “I disagree with your views” as “I hate your stupid face.” You can be an ideologue without ideology.

.. “Implicit bias,” and the special tests designed to measure it, come up often in the wake of police shootings and #BlackLivesMatter. They show in-group preferences among whites and among blacks. But experiments suggest that partisan in-group preferences are far more powerful.

.. between 30 and 60 percent of people who identify as Democrats or Republicans want their kids to marry in the party.

.. Long before anyone instructs children to group people into categories, research tells us, they’re programmed to do it anyway, and one of our basic ways of making sense of the world is to form generalizations of the sort linguists call “generics” — such as “bears eat people” or “tick bites give you Lyme disease.” Those generalizations count as true, but it’s not easy to say why. Hardly any bears have eaten people , and less than 2 percent of tick bites transmit the Lyme spirochete. But, as the philosopher Sarah-Jane Leslie has argued, we’re more likely to accept a generic if it involves a reason for concern, such as getting eaten or getting sick.

.. generics encourage us to think of the class in question as a kind, a group with a shared essence. To show how this works, Leslie joined with psychologists Marjorie Rhodes and Christina Tworek to design an experiment in which 4-year-olds were shown pictures of a fictional kind of person they called a Zarpie. The people in the pictures were male and female, black, white, Latino, Asian, young and old. With one group of 4-year-olds, the experimenters made lots of generic remarks. (“Zarpies are scared of ladybugs” and the like.) With another group, they made specific statements, not generic ones. (“Look at this Zarpie! He’s afraid of ladybugs!”) A couple of days later, they showed the kids a Zarpie and said he made a buzzing sound. It turned out that the children who’d heard a lot of generics about Zarpies were much more likely to believe that all Zarpies made buzzing sounds. Generic talk encouraged them to think of Zarpies as a category of person.

.. Generic remarks about people, in short, encourage you to think of them as a kind, and you’re more likely to accept a generic claim about a group if it’s negative or worrying. (Liberals hate America; conservatives are bigots.)

.. As everyone knows on some level, we’re tribal creatures. We not only belong to groups but are easily triggered to take arms against other groups. Evolutionary psychologists think these dispositions helped our ancestors survive by creating groups they could rely on to deal with the perils of prehistoric life ..

.. True, that was before cable news and social media. But those us-and-them instincts remain an indelible part of human nature.

.. if tribalism is responsible for some of the worst aspects of our politics, it’s also responsible for some of the best. According to the historian David Herbert Donald, the 19th-century abolitionists belonged to a tribe — essentially, an old-line Northern elite displaced by a new commercial and manufacturing class — that sought to regain its position through ethical crusades. The moral math was correct, but social identity was what helped it spread.

.. Almost the entire South went in 1976 for Jimmy Carter, who won by wide margins in notably white stateslike Arkansas and Tennessee. Voters who had supported states-rights candidates got behind the progressive from Plains, Ga., because — well, they were Southern Democrats, and so was Carter

.. the region didn’t become reliably Republican until the late 1990s. A generation of Southern Democrats had to die first.

.. To wish away identity politics is to wish away gravity. It burdens us, but it also grounds us. A workable politics enlists its force — and broadens its scope

Salvadoran Civil War

Murder of Archbishop Romero

In February 1980 Archbishop Óscar Romero published an open letter to US President Jimmy Carter in which he pleaded with him to suspend the United States’ ongoing program of military aid to the Salvadoran regime. He advised Carter that “Political power is in the hands of the armed forces. They know only how to repress the people and defend the interests of the Salvadoran oligarchy.” Romero warned that US support would only “sharpen the injustice and repression against the organizations of the people which repeatedly have been struggling to gain respect for their fundamental human rights.”[66] On 24 March 1980, the Archbishop was assassinated while celebrating mass, the day after he called upon Salvadoran soldiers and security force members to not follow their orders to kill Salvadoran civilians. President Jimmy Carter stated this was a “shocking and unconscionable act”.[67] At his funeral a week later, government-sponsored snipers in the National Palace and on the periphery of the Gerardo Barrios Plaza were responsible for the shooting of 42 mourners.[68]

.. Murder and rape of US nuns

.. On December 2, 1980, members of the Salvadoran National Guard were suspected to have raped and murdered four American nuns and a laywomanMaryknoll missionary nuns Maura ClarkeIta Ford, and Ursuline nun Dorothy Kazel, and laywoman Jean Donovan were on a Catholic relief mission providing food, shelter, transport, medical care, and burial to death squad victims. U.S. military aid was briefly cut off in response to the murders but would be renewed within six weeks. The outgoing Carter administration increased military aid to the Salvadoran armed forces to $10 million which included $5 million in rifles, ammunition, grenades and helicopters.[72]


“Draining the Sea”

.. In its effort to defeat the insurgency, the Salvadoran Armed Forces carried out a “scorched earth” strategy, adopting tactics similar to those being employed by the counterinsurgency in neighboring Guatemala. These tactics were primarily derived and adapted from U.S. strategy during the Vietnam War and taught by American military advisors.[76]

.. An integral part of the Salvadoran Army’s counterinsurgency strategy entailed “draining the sea” or “drying up the ocean,” that is, eliminating the insurgency by eradicating its support base in the countryside. The primary target was the civilian population – displacing or killing them in order to remove any possible base of support for the rebels. The concept of “draining the sea” had its basis in a doctrine by Mao Zedong which emphasized that “The guerrilla must move amongst the people as a fish swims in the sea.”[77]


.. “This may be an effective strategy for winning the war. It is, however, a strategy that involves the use of terror tactics—bombings, strafings, shellings and, occasionally, massacres of civilians.”[78]

.. On 18 March, three days after the sweep in Cabañas began, 4-8,000 survivors of the sweep (mostly women and children) attempted to cross the Rio Lempa into Honduras to flee violence. There, they were caught between Salvadoran and Honduran troops. The Salvadoran Air Force, subsequently bombed and strafed the fleeing civilians with machine gun fire, killing hundreds

.. Atlacatl was a rapid response counter-insurgency battalion organized at the US Army School of the Americas in Panama in 1980.

.. Atlacatl soldiers were equipped and directed by U.S. military advisers operating in El Salvador[82][83] and were described as “the pride of the United States military team in San Salvador. Trained in antiguerrilla operations, the battalion was intended to turn a losing war around.”[84]

.. The November 1981 operation was commanded by Lt. Col. Sigifredo Ochoa, a former Treasury Police chief with a reputation for brutality. Ochoa was close associate of Major Roberto D’Aubuisson and was alleged to have been involved in the assassination of Archbishop Oscar Romero.

.. Col. Ochoa claimed that hundreds of guerrillas had been killed but was able to show journalists only fifteen captured weapons, half of them virtual antiques, suggesting that most of those killed in the sweep were unarmed.[87]

.. he field commander said they were under orders to kill everyone, including the children, who he asserted would just grow up to become guerrillas if they let them live. “We were going to make an example of these people,” he said.[90

.. El Mozote Massacre

.. The US steadfastly denied the existence of the El Mozote massacre, dismissing reports of it as leftist “propaganda,” until secret US cables were declassified in the 1990s.[91

.. The army and death squads forced many of them to flee to the United States, but most were denied asylum.[95]

.. A US congressional delegation that on January 17–18, 1981, visited the refugee camps in El Salvador on a fact finding mission submitted a report to Congress which found that: “the Salvadoran method of ‘drying up the ocean’ is to eliminate entire villages from the map, to isolate the guerrillas, and deny them any rural base off which they can feed.”[96]

.. El Salvador’s National Federation of Lawyers, which represented all of the country’s bar associations, refused to participate in drafting the 1982 electoral law. The lawyers said that the elections couldn’t possibly be free and fair during a state of siege that suspended all basic rights and freedoms.

.. Fearful of a d’Aubuisson presidency for public relations purposes, the CIA financed Duarte’s campaign with some two million dollars.[113]

.. Nearly two weeks earlier, US Vice President Dan Quayle on a visit to San Salvador told army leaders that human rights abuses committed by the military had to stop. Sources associated with the military said afterword that Quayle’s warning was dismissed as propaganda for American consumption aimed at the US Congress and the U.S. public.[131] At the same time, U.S. advisers were sending a different message to the Salvadoran military – “do what you need to do to stop the commies, just don’t get caught“.[132] A former U.S. intelligence officer suggested the death squads needed to leave less visual evidence, that they should stop dumping bodies on the side of the road because “they have an ocean and they ought to use it“.[133]

.. After 10 years of war, more than one million people had been displaced out of a population of 5,389,000. 40% of the homes of newly displaced people were completely destroyed and another 25% were in need of major repairs

.. At war’s end, the Commission on the Truth for El Salvador registered more than 22,000 complaints of political violence in El Salvador, between January 1980 and July 1991, 60 percent about summary killing, 25 percent about kidnapping, and 20 percent about torture. These complaints attributed almost 85 percent of the violence to the Salvadoran Army and security forces alone.

  • The Salvadoran Armed Forces, which were massively supported by the United States (4.6 billion euros), were accused in 60 percent of the complaints,
  • the security forces (i.e. the National Guard, Treasury Police and the National Police) in 25 percent,
  • military escorts and civil defense units in 20 percent of complaints,
  • the death squads in approximately 10 percent, and
  • the FMLN in 5 percent.[157]

.. The report concluded that more than 70,000 people were killed, many in the course of gross violation of their human rights. More than 25 per cent of the populace was displaced as refugees before the U.N. peace treaty in 1992

.. The State’s terrorism was affected by the security forces, the Army, the National Guard, and the Treasury Police;[1]:308[167] yet it was the paramilitary death squads who gave the Government plausible deniability of, and accountability for, the political killings. Typically, a death squad dressed in civilian clothes and traveled in anonymous vehicles (dark windows, blank license plates). Their terrorism consisted of publishing future-victim death lists, delivering coffins to said future victims, and sending the target-person an invitation to his/her own funeral.[168][169

.. the objective of death-squad-terror seemed not only to eliminate opponents, but also, through torture and the gruesome disfigurement of bodies, to terrorize the population.[170

.. the FMLN continuously violated the human rights of many Salvadorans and other individuals identified as right-wing supporters,

  • military targets,
  • pro-government politicians,
  • intellectuals,
  • public officials, and
  • judges.

These violations included

kidnapping, bombings, rape, and killing.[158]

.. the constitution was amended to prohibit the military from playing an internal security role except under extraordinary circumstances

..  By 1993—nine months ahead of schedule—the military had cut personnel from a wartime high of 63,000 to the level of 32,000 required by the peace accords. By 1999, ESAF’s strength stood at less than 15,000

Human Rights Commission of El Salvador

.. On 26 October 1987, Herbert Ernesto Anaya, head of the CDHES, was assassinated


.. Many of the documents, from the CIA and the Defense Department, are not available

In Donald Trump, Evangelicals Have Found Their President

Mr. Trump took a car ride with Mike Pence along with Billy Graham’s son Franklin and Tony Perkins, a leading figure on the Christian right, during the Louisiana floods of 2016. Impressed by what Franklin Graham’s Christian ministry had done for flood victims, Mr. Trump told him that he was writing it a six-figure check, which Mr. Graham told him to send to Mr. Perkins’s church. Both men were moved by his impulsive kindness, and a bond was formed.

.. When Mr. Trump exited the car, he gave Mr. Robison a hug, pulled him up against his chest firmly and said, “Man, I sure love you.” A small gesture, perhaps, but heartfelt, real and so unlike the caricature of the president most of us see. And practically every evangelical leader I interviewed has a similar story.

.. Critics say that the Trump-evangelical relationship is transactional

.. evangelicals take the long view on Mr. Trump; they afford him grace when he doesn’t deserve it. Few dispute that Mr. Trump may need a little more grace than others. But evangelicals truly do believe that all people are flawed, and yet Christ offers them grace. Shouldn’t they do the same for the president?

.. The Bible is replete with examples of flawed individuals being used to accomplish God’s will. Evangelicals I interviewed said they believed that Mr. Trump was in the White House for a reason.

.. Bishop Wayne Jackson, who is the pastor of Great Faith Ministries International in Detroit and calls himself a lifelong Democrat, remembers Mr. Trump’s campaign visit to his church. He told me that the moment Mr. Trump got out of the car, “the spirit of the Lord told me that that’s the next president of the United States.”

.. I’ve watched Mr. Trump through the lens of the faith community for years, and he has delivered the policy goods and is progressing on the spiritual ones.

.. Donald Trump is on a spiritual voyage that has accelerated in recent years, thanks to evangelicals who have employed the biblical mandate of sharing and showing God’s love to him rather than shunning him.

.. This president’s effect on our cultural norms has been shocking. His critics would call it appalling; evangelicals say it’s immensely satisfying: They’ve seen a culture deteriorate quickly in the past decade, and they’re looking for a bold culture warrior to fight for them.

Showing that God does indeed have a sense of humor, He gave them Mr. Trump. Yet in God’s perfection, it’s a match made in heaven.

Mr. Trump and evangelicals share a disdain for political correctness, a world seen through absolutes and a desire to see an America that embraces Judeo-Christian values again rather than rejecting them.

.. Finally, why in the world wouldn’t evangelicals get behind and support a man who not only is in line with most of their agenda but also has delivered time and time again? The victories are numerous:

  • the courts,
  • pro-life policies,
  • the coming Embassy in Jerusalem and
  • religious liberty issues

, just to name a few. He easily wins the unofficial label of “most evangelical-friendly United States president ever.”

.. But the goal of evangelicals has always been winning the larger battle over control of the culture, not to get mired in the moral failings of each and every candidate.

.. For evangelicals, voting in the macro is the moral thing to do, even if the candidate is morally flawed. Evangelicals have tried the “moral” candidate before.

  1. .. Jimmy Carter was once the evangelical candidate. How did that work out in the macro?
  2. George W. Bush was the evangelical candidate in 2000: He pushed traditional conservative policies, but he doesn’t come close to Mr. Trump’s courageous blunt strokes in defense of evangelicals.

Reagan’s infamous speech in Philadelphia, Mississippi

In 1980, one of the major party presidential nominees opened his general election by delivering a speech in a small town in the Deep South that just by coincidence happened to be the national headquarters of the Ku Klux Klan. That same candidate had previously complained about federal housing policies which attempted “to inject black families into a white neighborhood just to create some sort of integration.” He argued that there was “nothing wrong with ethnic purity being maintained.” That candidate was President Jimmy Carter, the Democratic nominee.

.. Seven miles away from the fairgrounds is the town of Philadelphia, Mississippi, where three civil rights workers were murdered in 1964. Unfortunately, it would be difficult to find many places in Alabama or Mississippi which are not within seven miles of the scene of some infamous past act of racial violence, such as a lynching.

.. It would be false to say that Carter was appealing to racists because he kicked off his campaign in a town that was the current home of the Ku Klux Klan, and it would be equally false to say that Reagan was appealing to racists because he mentioned his lifelong theme of state’s rights at a county fair several miles away from the site of an infamous crime 16 years earlier. Today, columnists and commentators who tell you that the “kick off” for Reagan’s general election campaign was an appeal to racists are demonstrating that they don’t bother to check the facts before they make extreme allegations. People who are making coded appeals to racism don’t tell their audience that the “stereotype” of welfare recipients is wrong, and that “the overwhelming majority” of them want to work.

Politics For some evangelicals, a choice between Moore and morality

“What you’re seeing here is rank hypocrisy,” said John Fea, an evangelical Christian who teaches history at Messiah College in Mechanicsburg, Pa. “These are evangelicals who have decided that the way to win the culture is now uncoupled from character. Their goal is the same as it was 30 years ago, to restore America to its Christian roots, but the political playbook has changed.

.. No, the decision to stick with Moore is not just a power play — rather, it’s an evolving view of human nature, said Robert Jeffress, pastor of the 13,000-member Dallas First Baptist Church and perhaps the most prominent evangelical supporter of President Trump.

“For evangelical Christians, morality doesn’t change,” Jeffress said. “But over the last 40 years, Americans have become more aware of the flaws of individuals. Remember how shocked Christians like Billy Graham were when they heard Nixon’s tapes — his foul language, his racist remarks. We’re more aware now because of media scrutiny that our leaders are flawed and morality cannot be the only measure.”

Jeffress argued that Christians have come to see that although morality remains important in choosing candidates, “leadership, experience, morality and faith are all important, and the rank of those changes according to circumstances.”

.. In supporting Trump, Jeffress decided that although the president “may not be a perfect Christian, he is a good leader.” About 80 percent of white evangelicals voted for Trump last year, exit polls showed.

.. Land still believes in a line he attributes to Harry Truman, about how if a man lies to his wife, he’ll lie to me and the American people. “In an ideal world, you wouldn’t want anybody working for you who’d broken his marriage vows,” Land said. “But I understand that would disqualify a number of our presidents.”

.. Context matters, Land said. Trump was “my last choice among the Republican presidential candidates” in last year’s primaries, largely because of character questions, Land said. In the end, he voted for Trump over Hillary Clinton and agreed to serve on a Trump advisory board because “I had to choose between a lesser evil and a greater evil. Mrs. Clinton called abortion sacrosanct, so I already knew what I needed to know.” 

.. Other evangelical leaders have shifted their rhetoric through the years. Ralph Reed, the longtime head of the Christian Coalition, said in 1998 that Bill Clinton’s White House affair with Monica Lewinsky rendered him unfit to serve. “We will not rest until we have leaders of good moral character,” he said at the time.

In 2016, however, Reed, who did not respond to a request for comment, said after the release of videotape showing Trump boasting of grabbing women by their genitals that a recording “of a private conversation with a TV talk show host ranks pretty low on [evangelicals’] hierarchy of their concerns.”

.. “A watershed moment was 1980,” he said. “Evangelical Christians chose between a born-again Baptist Sunday school teacher and a twice-married Hollywood actor who had signed the most liberal abortion bill and whose wife practiced astrology. And evangelicals chose Ronald Reagan over Jimmy Carter.”