Polls show that 81 percent of white evangelical Christians voted for President Donald Trump in 2016. That’s a disturbingly high figure, but what of the 19 percent who declined to back Trump? Who are they?
According to Pastor Robert Jeffress, a Texas Southern Baptist who’s one of Trump’s biggest boosters, the so-called “never-Trump” evangelicals are “morons.”
During a recent interview with Fox News Channel’s Todd Starnes, Jeffress expressed his frustration over evangelicals who won’t get behind Trump. He didn’t hold back.
“Let me say this as charitably as I can,” Jeffress said. “These ‘Never Trump’ evangelicals are morons. They are absolutely spineless morons and they cannot admit that they were wrong.”
He continued, “This is an issue of life and death. This is so black and white, so much about good versus evil. I don’t get it. It really goes to the core of who we are as a country and what kind of a country we have in the future, and if we can’t get this issue of life right – I just don’t know where we’re going to go down the road.”
Jeffress is right about one thing – this is a matter of good and evil, and it’s far from clear which side Trump is on. This is the man, after all, who insisted that after violence erupted in Charlottesville, Va., between neo-Nazis and counter-protestors that there were “very fine people” in both camps.
It often seems that Trump’s moral compass isn’t just out of whack – it’s as if he never had one to begin with. He regularly spews invective against his perceived enemies on Twitter, lies at a pace that would make Pinocchio blush and has no ability to admit that he has ever done anything wrong. His scandal-plagued administration is marked by casual racism, Islamophobia, cruelty, xenophobia, a raft of anti-LGBTQ policies and disdain for basic American principles.
None of this matters to Jeffress and his ilk. All they care about is Trump’s promise to appoint federal judges who oppose legal abortion.
To the American Family Association (AFA), a Religious Right group that would have gone absolutely ballistic if a progressive pastor had called Trump allies “morons,” it’s all a big joke. OneNewsNow, the AFA’s fake news outlet, quoted Jeffress as saying, “I may have had one too many cups of coffee when I talked to Todd. But even though I might change the words, the sentiment remains the same.”
The ‘never-Trump’ evangelicals lack the household names and big-money pulpits of the men and women who populate Trump’s Evangelical Advisory Board, but they are raising their voices. One of them, Doug Pagitt, made some salient points in a USA Today op-ed last October.
“These conservative leaders are willing, at all costs, to make a moral trade – anti- abortion laws and court decisions in exchange for basic human dignity,” he observed. “This impulse for self-preservation allows them to champion an administration that runs afoul of America’s commitment to be a place of protection, that violates the call of the parable of the Good Samaritan, in which Jesus calls his followers to let go of our religious agendas to care for the harmed stranger.”
Jeffress probably considers Pagitt to be a “moron.” Millions of Americans – evangelical and otherwise – are quite capable of seeing the truth.
(PHOTO: Pastor Robert Jeffress, standing to the left of President Donald Trump, leads Trump's evangelical advisers in prayer in the Oval Office in September 2017. CREDIT: Screenshot from C-SPAN)