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Evangelical Leaders Still Support Trump — But Will Lewd Remarks Repel Voters?

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Evangelical Leaders Still Support Trump — But Will Lewd Remarks Repel Voters?


By Steve Holland and Michelle Conlin

WASHINGTON/NEW YORK (Reuters) – Leaders of religious conservative groups largely stood behind Donald Trump on Saturday, the day after vulgar sexual comments he made about women surfaced online, but some expressed concern that the U.S. Republican presidential nominee’s remarks could depress evangelical turnout on Election Day.

Most evangelical leaders did not condemn Trump, and instead pointed to an urgent need to prevent Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton from winning the presidency, reshaping the Supreme Court and implementing liberal policies.

The latest blow to Trump’s campaign came after a 2005 video surfaced of the then-reality TV star talking on an open microphone about groping women and trying to seduce a married woman. Vice presidential running mate Mike Pence said he could not defend Trump’s words.

Gary Bauer, chairman of the Campaign for Working Families, said Trump’s “grossly inappropriate language” does not change the choice facing the country in the Nov. 8 election and that “I continue to support the Trump-Pence ticket.”

“Hillary Clinton is committed to enacting policies that will erode religious liberty, promote abortion, make our country less safe, and leave our borders unprotected,” Bauer said.

White evangelicals make up about 20 percent of the U.S. population, according to the Public Religion Research Institute, and represent a crucial voting bloc Trump needs to win the presidency.

They have long represented a pillar of support for Republicans. In 2004, they were instrumental in President George W. Bush’s re-election. They turned out in similar numbers in 2008 and 2012, when Mitt Romney, a Mormon who many evangelicals considered too moderate, was the Republican nominee, according to a report by the Pew Research Center.

Support from evangelicals for Trump has been strong throughout his campaign, even though it was only late in life that the New York businessman adopted their cause. Social conservatives flocked to his side over other deeply religious Republican presidential candidates, such as Ted Cruz.

“Naturally I’m disappointed,” said Steve Scheffler, head of the Iowa Faith and Freedom Coalition. “But, you know, the Bible tells me that we are all sinners saved by grace and I don’t think there’s probably a person alive that I know of that hasn’t made some mistakes in the past.”

He said Clinton has peccadilloes of her own, most notably marital woes with her husband, former President Bill Clinton.

“So yes, I will vote for Donald Trump. I’m not excusing his behavior at all. It’s disgusting,” he said.

Still, politically active Christian conservative leaders across the country said they were worried that Trump’s comments could depress turnout among evangelicals.

“Evangelicals are not going to vote for Hillary,” said religious political activist David Lane. “But this could cause them to stay home. This could be a big deal. Things like this matter.”

Much will hinge on Trump’s performance in the second presidential debate on Sunday night, and whether he can convince Christians that he is a changed man, Lane said.

“He already apologized and said he was wrong,” said Lane. “I think he’s moving in the right direction. But he’s got to do really well in the debate Sunday night.”

Other religious leaders, however, were less forgiving.

Russell Moore, president of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, tweeted an article detailing evangelical apathy toward the Trump tape, calling it a “disgrace.”

“What a scandal to the gospel of Jesus Christ and to the integrity of our witness,” Moore wrote.

Still, the majority view among religious conservatives appeared to be summed up by Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council action group, who said evangelicals “are left with a choice of voting for the one who will do the least damage to our freedoms.”

“This is far from an ideal situation, but it is the reality in which we find ourselves and as difficult as it is, I refuse to find sanctuary on the sidelines and allow the country and culture to deteriorate even further by continuing the policies of the last eight years,” he said.

(Additional reporting by Emily Stephenson and Amy Tennery in New York; Editing by Bill Rigby)

IMAGE: Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council



  1. 1standlastword October 9, 2016

    EvilAngelicals!! What did we expect!? Give them Barabbas!

    1. Mama Bear October 9, 2016

      or Texas and Oklahoma….and maybe Alabama and Indiana…perhaps Mississippi and Louisiana too? Throw in Kentucky and Tennessee.

    2. Sand_Cat October 10, 2016

      Barabbas (“son of the father”) was the guy they claim to believe in.

  2. Mama Bear October 9, 2016

    Surprise anyone?

  3. charleo1 October 9, 2016

    Yes of course Evangelicals continue to support Trump. I don’t pretend to know what they believe exactly, or what part of the Bible their they’re basing those beliefs on. Or if they are still reading the Bible. But the fact they supported Trump before, and continue to support him now, in light of all we, and presumably they have learned about him since his candidacy began. Is just extremely sad, and disappointing for many Americans like myself, who count themselves among the millions of Protestant Christians around the World. I find my question to them concerning Trump is much like my many previously unanswered questions concerning their support of the Republican Party in general. How could they?

    1. Mama Bear October 9, 2016

      Can you say hypocrisy? The evil-gelicals have taken theirs to a level we can only imagine. They pick the Bible passage that they like and ignore the ones that they don’t like. They have done more to foster hate in this country than any other group – and they couch it all in “love the sinner hate the sin” BS. I saw a survey a few years ago done by a major church college in Chicago sent out to evil-gelical men asking about their level of engagement with porno. Over 75% of them said they had an addiction to it. Guess they pray about it right afterwards and then it’s all OK.

      1. charleo1 October 10, 2016

        It’s incredible but true. Of all the hate groups, gangs, anti-Federal government movements, sovereign citizen types, militias, racists, you name it, Evangelicals spew more hate on just one Sunday morning, than all the rest combined do all year. ” Let me send you my new tape.” Says Evangelical Hate Monger Jack Van Impe. “Muslim Flag Over The White House.” “I can show you where everything that’s happening today was prophesied in scripture long ago!” He tells his enthralled minions. All tax exempt, pure profit! (minus satellite fees of course.)

        1. Mama Bear October 10, 2016
        2. willardcottrell March 12, 2017

          I’m a regular christian basher. It pisses me off when I hear these guys pontificating. But, I am more pissed off a the so-called ‘real christians’ who are too pusillanimous to stand up to these bastards. So, in my broad brush opinion they’re all guilty. Just today I read where they were calling on GAWD to kill all the libruls. Now there’s a gawd to believe in. After this is all over I suggest we turn out football stadiums into lions dens

    2. Oddworld October 9, 2016

      During an NPR interview the other day one of the leaders spelled out exactly what a Trump presidency means to them. It’s more of the same bogus cry of “a war on American Christianity”. They’re trying to convince the nation that they’re
      the current minority under siege from liberal policies and Trump is their savior.

      1. charleo1 October 10, 2016

        Their attempts to use the power of the State to enforce their dogma are met with opposition insisting on the separation of church, and state. And it has been this protest, and nothing else, they have called abuse, and demanded their Constitutional Rights be upheld. Then a flaming bigot comes along and proposes abandoning those very same Religious, and Civil Rights for others. And they, more a cult than anything, can’t wait to line up in support of him. All the while casting themselves as the perpetual, ever suffering victim. Victims of a tyrannous gov. Of a liberal press. Of a Satan inspired Secular Socialism that they claim is the root of all that ails this once great Nation. A Nation that God in all HIs wisdom has given exclusively to them. It’s hard to think of anything less American in its ideology, more of a cancer on the Christian religion. Or in my mind, a bigger threat to everyone’s Constitutional Rights, than the combining forces of Evangelical Cultists in league with a desperate and rotting Republican Right Wing.

        1. Oddworld October 10, 2016

          Well said charleo.

    3. Sand_Cat October 10, 2016

      But really, nothing new has really been brought to light. ALL of this was obvious from almost every public statement Trump made, yet all these jackasses pretend they had no idea.

  4. Lynda Groom October 9, 2016

    Family values my ass. These so-called ‘Christian’ leaders are exposing themselves for the phonies that they clearly are. I can’t help but wonder if the rubes who fall for their line of crap are paying attention? Just what would Trump have too do to lose their support? Kind of reminds me of that old politician who said he would sail into office unless ‘found in bed with a dead hooker, or a live boy.’

  5. Sand_Cat October 10, 2016

    Once again, the incredible level of hypocrisy of the evangelical “Christian” leadership is on display for all to see, but their followers are too blind and ignorant to see it.

  6. mavis.winters October 10, 2016

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  7. RED October 10, 2016

    Proving once again that the christofascists are both ignorant and intolerant. But hey once you believe in magic sky fairies, especially magic sky fairies who originated in the Middle East and yet somehow were white, then they’ve already declared reality means nothing to them.

    1. dana.parks November 13, 2016

      It’s been one yr since I decided to resign from my previous work and that decision changed everything for me… I started to work from comfort of my house, for this company I found over internet, for a few hours /a day, and I earn much more than i did on my office job… Last check i got was for $9000… Great thing about it is that now i have more time with my kids… http://korta.nu/MDe

  8. judy_delacruz October 11, 2016

    Six months back,after losing my job , i’ve had luck to discover this fantastic website that literally saved me… They provide online tasks for people to work from their houses. My last check after working for them for three months was $12000… Amazing thing about is that only requirement for the job is basic typing skills and reliable internet… http://korta.nu/MDe

  9. Bor1am November 16, 2016

    Of course, leave it to the Evangelicals to vote for the Antichrist. It’s power and wealth, not spirituality, that’s important to them. They call themselves Christians, but they stand against everything that Christ taught.


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