In An October Non-Surprise, Religious Right Leaders Are Sticking With Trump

A tape has surfaced of Donald Trump saying things about women that are so lewd and crude that I can’t repeat them on this blog.

Trump’s 2005 comments were caught on a hot microphone as he talked with Billy Bush, then host of a TV show called “Access Hollywood.” The two were on their way to the set of a soap opera where Trump was filming a cameo.

On the tape, Trump is heard boasting about his attempts to seduce a married woman. “I moved on her, and I failed. I’ll admit it,” Trump says. “I did try and [expletive deleted] her. She was married.”

Trump goes on: “And I moved on her very heavily. In fact, I took her out furniture shopping. She wanted to get some furniture. I said, ‘I’ll show you where they have some nice furniture.’ I moved on her like a bitch, but I couldn’t get there. And she was married.”

At the time this was recorded, Trump had just recently married his third wife, Melania.

At another point in the tape, Trump brags that being well known allows him to approach women in a sexually aggressive manner.  

“You know I’m automatically attracted to beautiful – I just start kissing them,” Trump is heard saying. “It’s like a magnet. Just kiss. I don’t even wait. And when you’re a star, they let you do it. You can do anything.”

Another voice, apparently Bush’s, says, “Whatever you want.”

To this Trump replies, “Grab them by the [expletive deleted]. You can do anything.”

Enough time has passed since this recording was released for Religious Right leaders to respond with condemnations – as they surely would have done if a prominent Democrat had said these things.

So what are they saying?

Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, told BuzzFeed, “My personal support for Donald Trump has never been based upon shared values, it is based upon shared concerns about issues such as: justices on the Supreme Court that ignore the constitution, America’s continued vulnerability to Islamic terrorists and the systematic attack on religious liberty that we’ve seen in the last 7 1/2 years.”

Translation: Perkins is going to support Trump no matter how sleazy he is because of that open seat on the Supreme Court. Then, after throwing his support behind a serial adulterer who flirts with rape, he’s going to continue to lecture the rest of us about how important it is to be a “values voter.”

I checked Perkins’ Twitter feed this morning. It features several unflattering photos of President Barack Obama but not one word about Trump.

You'd think a headline like this would disturb the Religious Right. You'd be wrong.

Betsy Woodruff of the Daily Beast has a good roundup of Religious Right reactions. Let’s look at a few.

Ralph Reed of the Faith & Family Coalition: “People of faith are voting on issues like who will protect unborn life, defund Planned Parenthood, defend religious liberty and oppose the Iran nuclear deal. A ten-year-old tape of a private conversation with a talk show host ranks low on their hierarchy of concerns.”

Robert Jeffress, a Texas Baptist pastor and member of Trump’s Evangelical Executive Advisory Board: “I said at that time, with Trump sitting next to me, I would not necessarily choose this man to be my child’s Sunday School teacher. But that’s not what this election is about.”

Bob Vander Plaats, president of the Family Leader, an influential Religious Right group in Iowa, said he still plans to vote for Trump but will not endorse him.

I scoured the web this morning trying to find a reaction from Jerry Falwell Jr., an early Trump supporter who has compared the real estate mogul to Winston Churchill. So far, I’m coming up empty.

I’ve spent nearly 30 years monitoring Religious Right groups, often attending their meetings. One of the things that irks me the most about these organizations is their tendency to judge everyone at the drop of a hat.

To them, LGBTQ people are hell bound sinners, feminists are out to kill babies, non-believers are a threat to common decency and anyone with a progressive view of politics is a traitor to the country.

Religious Right groups are quick to say that anyone can receive forgiveness, but the only ones who ever qualify in their world are their fellow travelers in the far right. A liberal who makes a moral misstep is never forgiven. Yet someone like Trump is awarded a pass immediately. He doesn’t even have to ask.

I don’t know which candidate will win next month, but I do know that campaign 2016 has already produced one big loser: Religious Right groups. They sold what precious little integrity that had left for the walking mess of pottage that is Donald Trump. They all deserve one another.

I really don’t mind that the Religious Right has chosen to cast its lot with a crude, ill-informed man who speaks about women in this way. I just wish they’d quit pretending that their actions are noble or there’s any sense of decency in what they are doing.

They tossed that – and the values they claim to cherish – on a trash heap a long time ago.