Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council (FRC), has just admitted something that has been obvious for quite some time: Right-wing evangelicals have no intention of criticizing President Donald Trump, no matter how low he goes, as long as he keeps delivering for them.
In a recent interview, Perkins addressed the latest Trump scandal: that prior to the 2016 election, Trump paid a porn star named Stormy Daniels $130,000 in hush money to keep her quiet about an affair the two reportedly had in 2006.
If a liberal or moderate politician were entangled in such a tawdry matter, Perkins and his gang of theocrats would be in permanent residence on Fox News, expressing outrage, calling for “family values” and demanding a resignation. For Trump, their response is a shrug.
Tony Pekins and the Religious Right are giving President Donald Trump a "do-over" on his moral indiscretions.
“We kind of gave him, ‘All right, you get a mulligan. You get a do-over here,’” Perkins said during a podcast sponsored by Politico.
Perkins added that evangelicals were “tired of being kicked around by Barack Obama and his leftists. And I think they are finally glad that there’s somebody on the playground that is willing to punch the bully.”
Let’s put aside the fact that Obama and “his leftists” never kicked any evangelicals, metaphorically or otherwise. What Perkins is saying is stunning because he’s essentially admitting that the Religious Right has decided to elevate politics over principle. It turns out that his movement doesn’t care about “morals” after all – it just wants to score political points. (We at Americans United have known that for a long time, so it’s validating to hear Perkins admit it.)
Let’s be clear about this: The president can boast on tape how great it is to get away with sexually assaulting women because you’re famous. He can fail to condemn neo-Nazis. He can sell out the nation to the Russians. He can use vulgar language and espouse racism. He can issue a steady stream of lies. He can behave like a petulant child on Twitter. He can even violate his marriage vows and cavort with an adult film star. And the Family Research Council does not care as long as he gives them what they want on policy matters.
This raises some interesting questions: Is there any line FRC won’t cross? Can Trump ever go too far? Have the group’s principles always been for sale?
What’s especially appalling about this is the realization that, even as Perkins, evangelist Franklin Graham and their band of alleged moral majoritarians bow down before the golden calf of Trumpism, they continue to assail others for supposed moral failings. Consider this passage from FRC’s website: “FRC does not consider homosexuality, bi-sexuality, and transgenderism as acceptable alternative lifestyles or sexual ‘preferences’; they are unhealthy and destructive to individual persons, families, and society.”
But apparently carrying on with a porn star shortly after your wife has given birth to your son isn’t a problem.
Yes, the Religious Right keeps attacking LGBTQ Americans, non-believers, public school teachers, anyone who believes in evolution, feminists, political progressives, members of the media, religious liberals, etc. Yes, the Religious Right has the unmitigated gall to continue judging the behavior of others and slapping the label “unbiblical” on them. And yes, Religious Right leaders can’t be bothered to say one word about the myriad of moral lapses that have marked the tenure of the “stable genius” in the White House.
FRC and groups like it claim to be based on the Bible, so I’ll try to put this in words they’ll understand: In that tome, there’s a passage in the seventh chapter of the Book of Matthew that seems relevant to this situation. A teacher tells a crowd, “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own? You hypocrite! First take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.”
In other words, you have no right to judge the minor flaws of others when you yourself are entirely morally compromised.
That teacher was Jesus. He had some interesting things to say. I’d recommend that Perkins and his fellow Trump worshippers check them out.