It’s true most Christians love GOP nominee Donald Trump’s conservative stance on issues like abortion, religious freedom, and the Supreme Court. Their big hold up though is his character, or seeming lack thereof.
Last week video from 2005 surfaced showing Trump making lewd, sexually explicit comments about women.
Almost immediately some Christian leaders began walking back their support for him. But to the surprise of some, many did not.
Mark Halperin with Bloomberg Politics tweeted, “Amazing that almost only statements of re-affirmation of support for @realDonaldTrumptoday are from religious conservative leaders.”
Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, is one of those leaders.
“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,” he wrote in a statement on his website.
Perkins then detailed those “shared concerns.”
“These concerns include the damage the Supreme Court would continue to do to this country through the appointment of activist justices, concerns over the security of our nation because of our government’s refusal to confront the growing threat of Islamic terrorism, and concerns over the prospects of continued attacks by our own government upon religious freedom,” he wrote.
Liberty University President Jerry Falwell Jr. is another high-profile Christian still supporting Trump.
“It was completely out of order. It’s not something I’m going to defend… It was reprehensible. We’re all sinners, every one of us. We’ve all done things we wish we hadn’t,” he said in an interview with WABC in New York City.
Ben Carson, a Trump surrogate, also reaffirmed his support following the release of the video.
“I’m a Christian voter and I’m not okay with it, but I can look at the bigger picture, and I think a lot of other Christians can look at the bigger picture, too,” Carson said in an interview with Yahoo News.
“I can’t defend the video, but I can certainly continue to support him because I think what he represents is far superior to what Hillary (Clinton) represents,” he later added.
One evangelical heavyweight to pull his support for Trump is Wayne Gruden, co-founder of the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood and theologian at Phoenix Seminary. Earlier this year he called Trump “a morally good choice” but those feelings quickly flipped last week.
“I previously called Donald Trump a ‘good candidate with flaws’ and a ‘flawed candidate’ but I now regret that I did not more strongly condemn his moral character. I cannot commend Trump’s moral character, and I strongly urge him to withdraw from the election,” Gruden wrote in a statement.
Russell Moore, president of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, was never on board with Trump.
In an opinion article in The Washington Post he argued that Trump “snuffed out” the Religious Right.
“The old-guard is easier to engage in politics, because they find identity in a ‘silent majority’ of Americans. The next generation knows that our witness is counter to the culture, not just on the sanctity of life and the stability of the family but, most importantly, on the core of the gospel itself: Christ and him crucified,” Moore wrote.
Moore said he doesn’t buy the pro-Trump arguments that “Trump’s not a Sunday school teacher” or that he’s the “lesser of two evils.”
The latest poll from the Public Religion Research Institute showed 69 percent of white evangelical Protestants favoring Trump while 19 percent support Clinton.
Trump’s support among evangelicals is what it is but a lot could still happen between now and Nov. 8. More videos of Trump behaving badly could surface. WikiLeaks has promised to release more dirt on Clinton.
The real question: Will more of these revelations change the minds of evangelical voters at large?