Ethics & Religion
June 23, 2016
Evangelical Leaders Fail to Endorse Trump
By Mike McManus
More than 1,000 evangelicals met with Donald Trump
this week but when eight prominent organizers spoke at a press
conference afterward, they were asked who was ready to endorse the
winner of the Republican presidential primaries. None raised their hand.
Not Franklin Graham, Dr. James Dobson, founder of Focus on the Family,
nor Family Research Council President Tony Perkins, Ralph Reed of the
Faith and Freedom Coalition. Penny Nance, president of Concerned Women
for America, said she felt the meeting was "positive. But the question
still is whether I can feel confident in asking people to join me."
Trump's comments were often odd. "The next president is going to be very
vital...in freeing up your religion, freeing up your thoughts. You
really don't have religious freedom."
I doubt that one attendee agreed with that. They oppose threats to
religious freedom, such as the insistence by the Obama Administration
that employers give employees free "morning after pills" to terminate a
pregnancy. But all feel they have personal religious freedom to choose a
church or teach their children about God.
Trump also asserted, "The evangelical vote was mostly gotten by me." Not
really. Sen. Ted Cruz won in 12 states with a high percentage of
evangelicals such as Texas, Iowa, Kansas and Oklahoma. Trump did win
much of the evangelical south, but in Missouri he squeaked out by 40.9%
percent to 40.7%, but he lost those who attend church weekly by 20%.
Committed evangelicals sense he is not one of them. Many supported Cruz,
such as Iowa evangelical leader Bob Vander Plaats, who mocked Trump's
botched citation of "Two Corinthians and his admission that he's never
asked God for forgiveness."
Trump even told attendees that things were different "when I used to go
to church." However, he reassures us that he does attend every Easter
Trump pleased his audience by saying, "The first thing we will do is
support Supreme Court Justices who are talented men and woman and
pro-life." He has released a list of 11 noted conservative judges, from
whom he promised to choose the next Supreme Court nominee if elected.
He surprised many by pledging to repeal the Johnson Amendment which
prohibits tax-exempt organizations from endorsing or opposing political
candidates. "I think it will be my greatest contribution to Christianity
and all religions to allow you to speak openly. You have a right to do
that. People walking down the street have more power than you, because
they can say whatever they want."
However, a number of nationally prominent evangelicals were not even in
attendance because they oppose his candidacy. For example, Dr. Russell
Moore, President of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission of the
Southern Baptist Convention, wrote a column in The New York Times in
September who called his support by evangelicals and social
"To back Mr. Trump, these voters must repudiate everything they believe.
His attitude toward women is that of a Bronze Age warlord. He tells us
in one of his books that he revels in the fact he gets to sleep with
some of the `top women of the world.' He has divorced two wives (so far)
for other women."
His lack of "a moral compass" is not surprising since he built his
career "off of gambling, a moral vice and an economic swindle that
oppresses the poorest and most desperate," Moore wrote. He praises the
"good things" done by Planned Parenthood, the nation's largest
abortionist. At a time of high racial tensions, Trump "incites division,
with slurs against Hispanic immigrants and with protectionist jargon."
Michael Cromartie of the Ethics and Public Policy Center wondered why
none of the evangelicals asked Trump to release his tax returns, which
all Presidential candidates have done for generations. "It is very sad
and pathetic to see evangelicals seduced by power. Is this the new face
of the Republican Party - a misogynist, racist, owner of casinos, who
won't even release his tax returns?"
Moore warns, "We should also count the cost of following Donald Trump.
To do so would mean that we've decided to join the other side of the
culture war, that image and celebrity and money and power and social
Darwinist `winning' trump the conservation of moral principles and a
If not one evangelical "leader" can endorse Trump, they ought to take
the lead in pressing Republicans to nominate a man they can support
Trump is not yet the Republican nominee.
Copyright (c) 2016 Michel J. McManus, President of Marriage Savers and a
syndicated columnist. To see past columns, go to
www.ethicsandreligion.com. Hit Search for any topic.
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