Donald J. Trump is a blister on the skin of the world, a person who has bragged about sexually assaulting women, a clot in the arteries of progress, a racist coward who needs a mob to be phony brave, a con man with the moral fiber of a carny huckster trying to fleece you of your last dollar because he finds it funny, a bully who can’t take a punch, a vulpine misogynist, a breaker of promises to wives and friends, a deadbeat who won’t pay what he owes, a gilded liar, a peddler of incoherent bombast, a fool playing court to the fallen king that is his own funhouse-mirror image of himself, the guy who farts in the elevator and blames the stink on you, a wrecker, a prisoner of his own engorged paranoia born of his greatest fear: that everyone might actually see the inferior, petty, pathetic small-fraction of a man hiding like a tucked-tail dormouse behind a tawdry Atlantic City light show he can’t afford to pay for anymore.
This is, of course, all academic at this point. Eyeless Asimovian crustaceans scuttling beneath the ice of Jupiter’s frozen Europa can see Donald Trump for what he really is. The real question, the one that will certainly puzzle political academics for many years to come, is why a vast swath of the United States’ evangelical Christian community doesn’t seem to see it at all … and if they do, which at least some of them must, why do they continue to cling to the man like remora on the underbelly of a rogue shark?
This mystery runs deep. Much of the evangelical community has spent the last four decades making sure we all know how important “family values” are to them by trying to ram-feed their perception of morality down our collective throat. We must have the Ten Commandments posted in stone outside the courthouse. We must deny women control over their own bodies. We must shun the LGBTQ community because of a line in the Bible right next to the other lines favoring slavery and condemning to death anyone wearing clothes made from two different threads. The cotton-poly blend you’re wearing? God sees the tag on your collar. That’s your ass, my friend.
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Not every evangelical Christian is as hardcore as Dave Daubenmire, pastor of Pass the Salt ministries, who laid out God’s will in plain language: “Women and men may be equal, but I think it’s pretty clear that the Bible teaches us that women should not be in authority over a man. With all that’s going on with Trump and everybody screaming and hollering about that, when is the last time your pastor stood up in the pulpit and said, ‘Hey, listen, we cannot vote for Hillary Clinton because women are not to have authority over men’?” Enough of them, however, have taken woman-hating enough to heart that the idea of a President Clinton is on par with a slow dip in molten ore. Abortion, the Supreme Court, God, whatever … she ain’t the boss of me.
A veritable who’s who of evangelical high-rollers have stared into the sewer of the Trump campaign and declared it palatable in the eyes of the Lord. Ralph Reed, Robert Jeffress, David Bozell, Jerry Falwell, David Brody and Tony Perkins are but a few of the Christian luminaries who have anointed Trump with the blood of the Lamb and deemed him morally worthy of Christian support. Some, like Michele Bachmann, have gone so far as to proclaim that Trump is in fact the chosen vessel of God.
Really. A thrice-married gambling magnate who sees a Bible only when he piles socks into a hotel room drawer, a confessed adulterer who carried out his tryst with Marla Maples on the front pages of the New York tabloids, an assaulter of women, an egotist of truly Brobdingnagian proportions who knows humility not at all, a man of venom and vengeance who looks upon those weaker than him as prey … this is the chosen vessel of God?
Not everyone in the community agrees. Evangelist Beth Moore is popular enough to sell out arenas, and she is having none of Mr. Trump. “I’m one among many women sexually abused, misused, stared down, heckled, talked naughty to,” she said recently. “Like we liked it. We didn’t. We’re tired of it. Try to absorb how acceptable the disesteem and objectifying of women has been when some Christian leaders don’t think it’s that big a deal.” She is not alone; a growing number of women within the evangelical Christian community are following Moore’s lead and shouting down any and all so-called Christians who have hitched their wagons to Trump’s dark star.
And therein lies the rub. The Trump phenomenon not only threatens to shatter the Republican Party, but has gone a very long way toward obliterating the self-bestowed moral superiority a great many high-profile evangelical Christians have long enjoyed. Whither goes piety, humility and generosity? Whither the fourth, seventh, eighth, ninth and tenth Commandments? Evangelical Christian voters may smell a whiff of sulfur and brimstone when they step into the voting booth next month and lay their mark next to Trump’s name. Hating Hillary Clinton does not excuse this lapse. The shroud has been ripped asunder, and the long game of automatically assigned evangelical virtue is only so much dust under Trump’s heel.
There is still time to salvage your dignity, you evangelicals for Trump. You have several weeks remaining to chart a course that does not bellow hypocrisy. Look away from the temple of sin. The soul you save may be your own.