Prominent Southern Baptists and other evangelicals have been making the rounds in the popular media expressing their opinions regarding the Oct. 7 release of a taped conversation from 2005 of Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump making lewd comments about women that he later described a “locker room” talk.
Many in the media are calling it an “evangelical civil war” and the debate just keeps getting hotter.
R. Albert Mohler Jr., President of Southern Seminary, told CNN Tonight host Don Lemon during an Oct. 12 appearance, “When it comes to Donald Trump, evangelicals are going to have to ask the huge question, ‘Is it worth destroying our moral credibility to support someone who is beneath the baseline level of human decency for anyone who should deserve our vote?’” Mohler said. “I think that’s a far bigger question than the 2016 election. This election is a disaster for the American people; it’s an excruciating moment for American evangelicals.
“Can we put up with someone and can we offer them our vote and support when we know that person not only sounds like what he presumes and presents as a playboy, but as a sexual predator?” Mohler said. “This is so far over the line that I think we have to recognize we wouldn’t want this person as our next door neighbor, much less as the inhabitant of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. And long term I’m afraid people are going to remember evangelicals in this election for supporting the unsupportable and defending the absolutely indefensible.”
Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission President Russell Moore penned an Oct. 9 editorial for the Washington Post stating, “These evangelical leaders have said that, for the sake of the ‘lesser of two evils,’ one should stand with someone who not only characterizes sexual decadence and misogyny, brokers in cruelty and nativism, and displays a crazed public and private temperament — but who glories in these things. Some of the very people who warned us about moral relativism and situational ethics now ask us to become moral relativists for the sake of an election. …The cynicism and nihilism is horrifying to behold. It is not new, but it is clearer to see than ever.”
Neither Mohler or Moore have supported Trump’s candidacy in this election cycle.
Southern Baptist megachurch Pastor James Macdonald of Harvest Bible Chapel in Chicago is a member of Donald Trump’s Evangelical Executive Advisory Board. He sent an e-mail Oct. 9 to the board’s other members condemning Trump’s remarks calling him “misogynistic trash that reveals a man to be lecherous and worthless” and threatened to quit the board.
Robert Jeffress, pastor of First Baptist Church of Dallas, TX, and a Trump advisor, appeared on the Oct. 11 episode of the O’Reilly Factor. Jeffress was asked to respond to Macdonald’s comments and overall situation.
“I think Pastor MacDonald is wrong, especially to label Donald Trump or anyone else as ‘worthless,’” said Jeffress. “I can hardly imagine Jesus saying that. But the real issue is that this is a binary choice between one candidate who is pro-life, pro-religious liberty, pro-conservative justices, and another candidate who holds the exact opposite views. For a conservative Christian to stay at home and allow Hillary Clinton to become president is unthinkable and inexcusable! I’ve been around Donald Trump and he is nothing but a gentleman and a loving person.”
Tony Perkins, Family Research Council president and Trump supporter, appeared Oct. 9 on Your World with Neil Cavuto. Perkins said Trump’s remarks were “very concerning” and “immoral.”
However, like Jeffress, he noted his support of the candidate on conservative issues. “We don’t share the same type of values. We don’t see the world the same way, although we do have some shared concerns.” Perkins said he believes Trump would be a better protector of religious liberty than any of the other candidates running for U.S. president.
But what about the man himself? It is interesting to note, very little is being said by evangelicals on either side about Trump’s video-taped apology released Oct. 8, the day after his lewd remarks were made public by the Washington Post.
In his apology Trump said, “I’ve said and done things I regret, and the words released today on this more-than-a-decade-old video are one of them. Anyone who knows me knows these words don’t reflect who I am. I said it, I was wrong, and I apologize.”