Christian Conservative, Russell Moore:
“For years, secular progressives have said that evangelical social action in America is not about religious conviction but all about power.”
“They have implied that the goal of the Religious Right is to cynically use the ‘moral’ to get to the ‘majority,’ not the other way around. This year, a group of high-profile old-guard evangelicals has proven these critics right.”
HOW THE RELIGIOUS RIGHT EMBRACED TRUMP AND LOST ITS MORAL AUTHORITY
I have been commenting on this subject all during the Trump phenomenon. How the religious right could embrace a man that is so morally repugnant was mystifying, If, say, Barack Obama, for example, had trotted out his five children by three wives during the DNC convention in 2008, or had we read about his boasting that he had affairs with many married women, or if we had heard an audio tape of Obama bragging about being able to grab women's genitals because he was a star, had anything like that been revealed about Barack Obama, people like Ralph Reed or Jerry Falwell, Jr., would have burst blood vessels while bellowing about the moral disintegration of our precious country by allowing that sort of man near the White House. Hadn't this country suffered enough through the sexual exploits during Bill Clinton's administration? And yet the same people who couldn't heap enough condemnation during the Clinton scandals are justifying their support of a sexual predator who had no problem with a radio shock jock calling his young daughter "a piece of ass."
Jeff Jacoby, the long-time Boston Globe's conservative columnist, expresses the same astonishment over how those people who were shocked by l'affaire Clinton have nothing negative to say about Trump. They have traded their moral authority for political ideology.
By Jeff Jacoby
IT WILL TAKE a long time to assess the full extent of the damage wrought by Donald Trump on the Republican Party and American conservatism. But this much is already clear: Buried under the post-election wreckage will be the moral credibility of the religious right.
Hypocrisy and politics have gone hand in hand since time immemorial. But the embrace of Trump by influential religious conservatives — who have always insisted that they, like Hebrew National, answer to a higher authority — is orders of magnitude worse than the customary flip-flopping and sail-trimming of a presidential campaign.
You didn’t have to sympathize with the Christian right’s political platform to understand why so many evangelical leaders were appalled by the sexual scandals that trailed Bill Clinton into the White House. It was no mystery, for example, why Ralph Reed, an early leader of the Christian Coalition, would insist vehemently, in 1998, as pressure was growing for Clinton’s impeachment, that “we care about the conduct of our leaders, and we will not rest until we have leaders of good moral character.” Or why the formidable televangelist Pat Robertson would blast Clinton as a “debauched, debased, and defamed” politician who turned the Oval Office into a “playpen for the sexual freedom of . . . the 1960s.”
Equally intolerable is the willingness to ignore a candidate’s brazen moral offenses because you like his stands on public policy. Such ends-justify-the-means arguments are “Nixonian,” said Bennett. “Moral precepts are real; they are not like warm candle wax, easily shaped to fit the ends of this or that president, or this or that cause.” When Trump backers downplay their candidate’s scandalous conduct on the grounds that Supreme Court appointments matter more, they are as bad as Clinton backers who downplayed the president’s Oval Office debauchery because they liked his position on abortion rights.
Yet Bennett now exemplifies the phenomenon he excoriated.
When it came to Clinton’s depravity, Bennett was unsparing. Trump’s depravity he doesn’t mind so much. In August, Bennett accused anti-Trump conservatives of “put[ting] their own vanity and taste above the interest of the country.”
Not everyone on the religious right has sacrificed their principles for Trump’s sake. A coalition of Liberty University students issued an eloquent statement Wednesday rebuking Falwell for endorsing the GOP nominee.
“Donald Trump does not represent our values and we want nothing to do with him,” they wrote. Albert Mohler, a deeply respected Baptist theologian, remains as steadfast in opposing Trump as he was in opposing Bill Clinton.
But they and other honorable exceptions will not undo the damage caused by the pro-Trump leaders of the evangelical right. What started as Christian witness ended in hypocritical partisanship. Religious conservatives shed their principles, and thereby dismantled their influence.