Evangelical Christianity Had Plenty of Problems Before Donald Trump Came Along

Mar 13, 2018

By Hemant Mehta

Michael Gerson, a former speechwriter for President George W. Bush and graduate of evangelical haven Wheaton College, is a card-carrying conservative Christian. That’s why his new cover story for The Atlantic, all about how evangelicals have screwed themselves over by latching onto Donald Trump, can’t be dismissed as another liberal screed.

His thesis is correct, and it’s something critics of the Religious Right have been saying for years: the Trump-loving Christians are hypocrites who routinely ignore his litany of problems in exchange for lip service and right-wing judicial nominees. In doing so, they’ve turned their once proud brand into something toxic.

… there appears to be no limit to what some evangelical leaders will endure. Figures such as [Jerry] Falwell [Jr.] and Franklin Graham followed Trump’s lead in supporting Judge Roy Moore in the December Senate election in Alabama. These are religious leaders who have spent their entire adult lives bemoaning cultural and moral decay. Yet they publicly backed a candidate who was repeatedly accused of sexual misconduct, including with a 14-year-old girl.

The moral convictions of many evangelical leaders have become a function of their partisan identification. This is not mere gullibility; it is utter corruption. Blinded by political tribalism and hatred for their political opponents, these leaders can’t see how they are undermining the causes to which they once dedicated their lives. Little remains of a distinctly Christian public witness.

Gerson also notes that white evangelicals today — and that’s an important distinction since black evangelicals know better than to follow Prophet Trump — are more influenced by Fox News than, say, Rick Warren.

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