Opinion

No integrity for Trump’s evangelical disciples. Sad!

Adult film actress Stormy Daniels arrives for the 49th Annual Grammy Awards in Los Angeles in this Feb. 11, 2007 file photo. Stormy Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford, alleges that she had an extramarital affair with President Donald Trump. (AP Photo/Matt Sayles, File)

(RNS) — “Daddy, who is that lady, Stormy?”

My 5-year-old daughter asked the question a few weeks ago as we flipped past a news report about the president’s alleged porn-star mistress headlining another Bible Belt strip club on her publicity tour.

“She is a friend of Mr. Trump’s,” I told my daughter, as I quickly changed the channel to PBS Kids. My kindergartner had been learning about weather at school. “‘Stormy’ is a funny name.”

I thought of that incident last week when I heard an NPR report about a meeting being planned for June 19 between President Trump and as many as a thousand conservative Christian leaders.

Ever since so many Bible-believing Christians embraced Trump’s racist campaign in 2016, I have wondered if anything would make them abandon him.

But time after time, no matter his alleged sins and crimes, the evangelicals are there to affirm and celebrate what Jerry Falwell Jr. calls their “dream president.”

And some of their leaders continue to cite Christian faith as the primary reason why Trump is due their uncritical support.

The NPR report cited the usual cast of Trump’s religious-right operatives, none of whom expressed concern that revelations about a $130,000 hush-money payment to an adult entertainer would trouble the evangelicals, who used to regard pornography and adultery as vile sins.

The controversial photo that Jerry Falwell Jr. tweeted on June 21, 2016, with Trump featured on Playboy magazine in the background. Photo via Twitter

An anonymous source told NPR that some evangelical leaders are “very concerned” about the allegations, but not because they might undermine or scandalize the faith they profess as they labor daily to bolster Trump’s political fortunes.

“It is a concern of ours that 2018 could be very detrimental to some of the other issues that we hold dear.”

This is why people think that the Christian right is just another Republican voting bloc, not something different or purer because of its purported spiritual character.

Trump’s court Christians know that nothing the president says or does will erode white evangelical support for him. They make it clear that they only care about him delivering on their issues. It is purely transactional.

Does their indifference over Stormy Daniels extend to Melania Trump, who had just delivered a baby when the affair allegedly took place?

Apparently so. They do not care about the president’s appalling obnoxiousness or lack of integrity. They only want to win, advance their agenda and maintain their proximity to power.

As a longtime observer of faith-inspired participation in American politics, I can think of no other group that acts with so little concern for the reputation of its religion.

The Trump evangelicals will continue to win in the short term, and will probably help minimize midterm losses by rallying the troops.

But we can’t yet imagine how their nakedly political and partisan embrace of Trump will damage conservative Protestantism in the U.S. Their evident lack of concern about it is really something to behold.

President Trump and first lady Melania Trump arrive at a “Make America Great Again” rally at Orlando-Melbourne International Airport in Melbourne, Fla., on Feb. 18, 2017. Photo by Kevin Lamarque/Reuters

Penny Nance leads a group called (I am not making this up) Concerned Women for America. She knows her people do not care about Trump’s behavior with Daniels: “I just honestly don’t hear hand-wringing over the issue. They’re not surprised.”

Nance continued, “This president is not Rick Santorum or Mike Huckabee,” she said, referring respectively to the conservative Catholic former Pennsylvania senator and the pastor who was governor of Arkansas. “He doesn’t pretend to be a Bible-banging evangelical,” she said, implying that an actual Christian could be damaged by such a scandal, but because Trump is not, all of this is of no consequence.

Veteran pol Ralph Reed also spoke in partisan terms: “If these folks don’t turn out in record numbers in 2018, it’s gonna be a long night for Republicans.”

Another evangelical adviser with contacts in the administration said Trump would not be at the center of the meeting.

The real focus, evangelical Trumpist Johnnie Moore explained, would be what’s next on their policy agenda. But “if there is a meeting and he participates,” Moore said, “I think there will be one heck of a celebration.” Celebration? Honoring the vulgar, vengeful, race-baiting president’s accomplishments for them?

After news broke of conservative Christians’ planned meeting with Trump, Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council insisted that evangelicals do not care about Trump’s extramarital activities.

“Our concern is that evangelicals are discouraged, not because of details dredged up from the president’s past, but from Congress’ poor performance on promises made.”

Evangelical supporters place hands on and pray with President Trump in the Oval Office of the White House. Photo courtesy of Johnnie Moore

Imagine evangelicals’ concern if Barack Obama had a tryst with a porn star months after Michelle Obama delivered a baby.

There is so much insanity in this story that the location of the June 19 meeting, Trump’s hotel on Pennsylvania Avenue, is an afterthought. One leader said the posh downtown site was chosen because “it is probably the best deal in D.C.” (It is not.)

I am done talking to my little girl about the president’s friend with the funny name.

But I will never forget that the religious right is the reason why I cannot even flip through the news channels without having filth paraded in front of my young children.

Conservative Christians blame Hollywood and liberals and everyone but themselves. But they are the ones who brought vulgarity, adultery and a porn star into my family’s home.

That’s what I will remember in June when evangelicals rent a ballroom at Trump’s hotel to have “one heck of a celebration.”

(Jacob Lupfer is a doctoral candidate in political science at Georgetown University. His website is www.jacoblupfer.com. Follow him on Twitter at @jlupf. The views expressed in this commentary do not necessarily represent those of Religion News Service.)

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Jacob Lupfer

73 Comments

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  • Evangelicals have been warning us about the antichrist for nearly 2000 years.

    So, when he f ally showed up, they voted for him overwhelmingly. And his VICE president, Mr. Mulligan, as well.

  • Yeah, Trump never should have got into “confidential arrangements” with Stormy Daniels, just like Hillary and Willie should never have gotten into “confidential arrangements” with Paula Jones.

    But they all played the game, lotsa baby dolls on all sides, and all of us — on ALL sides, baby — played along with it in 2016.

    Why? Because we all knew what specific policies, proposals, (and Supreme Court seats) would accompany either liberal Hillary or conservative Trump, depending on who won. We (on all sides) knew the stakes were way high.

    Some Trump Haters wanna pretend that only Trump Supporters need to look in the ethical and spiritual mirror.

    So here’s a little news flash, folks: We all do. Even those good ole pious Trump Haters. Got mirror?

  • Let he who has never had a tryst with a porn star just months after one’s wife has given birth, cast the first stone.

  • And Jesus said [I am not making this up ] “you hypocrites” the reason you can’t flip through the channels is not the nightly news.

  • “As a longtime observer of faith-inspired participation in American politics, I can think of no other group that acts with so little concern for the reputation of its religion.

    The Trump evangelicals will continue to win in the short term, and will probably help minimize midterm losses by rallying the troops.

    But we can’t yet imagine how their nakedly political and partisan embrace of Trump will damage conservative Protestantism in the U.S. Their evident lack of concern about it is really something to behold. . . .”

    Yep.

    Yep.

    And yep. Yep to each paragraph.

    The whataboutism and false equivalency memes of folks who wink and nod at the abdication of meaningful religious and moral responsibility (Whudabout Bill and Hillary? Whudabout Paula Jones? We all do it!) is a wonder to behold, too. Talk about throwing away moral credibility by the handfuls — and for what? A brazen calf and a house built on sand.

    The naked lust for naked power while these folks claim to follow a savior who asked what it profits someone to gain the whole world and lose his or her soul: a wonder to behold, indeed.

  • There’s more morality in Stormy Daniels’ little finger than in the all the Religious Right apparatchiks’ whole bodies combined.

  • One of the hucksters your lot funded paid for Paula Jones and Linda Tripp’s plastic surgeries.

  • A bit of a difference though in that first I am pretty sure Clinton was not and equally favoured candidate of evangelicals and secondly, most of his sexual misconduct was not publicly known until he was into his first term. He also was vigorously condemned by the right for his behaviour. Trump’s character flaws were no surprise but glossed over as being a ‘baby Christian’ = not quite apples to apples.

  • Can’t disagree with anything said in the above article. But could add that the Church’s affection for wealth and power have other significant examples. And wealth and power are the real reasons why so many white evangelicals, especially their leaders, persistently turn the other cheek with the revelation of each new scandal associated with Trump.

  • This Evangelical duplicity is an embodiment of Pope Francis’s discussion of Pelagianism in his new “Gaudete et Exsultate”.

  • Whataboutism aside, the irony of all of this is that the religious-right brought about all the things is claimed the left would do.

    It would be more funny if it wans’t so sad and causing so much harm

  • “Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council insisted that evangelicals do not care about Trump’s extramarital activities”

    Because Mr. Perkins opposes actual functioning marriages.

  • So you approve of immoral acts because it is rumored, but not substantiated, that others did the same. Doesn’t speak well of your moral standards at all. Evidently any act can be acceptable if others had allegedly dome something like it before. You have no objective standards at all to speak of.

    And Christian fundamentalists use “moral relativism” as an epithet. How funny.

    Nobody ever has to care what Clintons, Obama, Bushs, William the Conqueror did when the subject is our current Golfer in Chief. It doesn’t change the legality, morality or ethical nature of a given act.

    But its good to know you just don’t care when something wrong is done, rather than make up garbage to deny it.

  • Trump is nothing compared to Bill Clinton. Bill had an affair while he was president in the WH. Bill showed the way.

  • Oh please. At **this** stage, everybody knows exactly which function each member of the famous Clinton WWE Tag Team performed.

    Bill The Snatcher
    Hillary The Silencer

  • You really think people are stupid enough to believe that? I guess you are. Clinton never bragged about sexual assault. Clinton never paid off hookers and porn stars.

  • Good to know you are perfectly OK with bad acts by our President because you think they can be excused by those ALLEGED BUT NOT SUBSTANTIATED IN ANY CREDIBLE FASHION of others. And yet Christian Fundamentalists use “moral relativism” as an epithet. Ha!

    Way to show you have some concepts of objective moral standing.

  • i’m going to quote spuddie here.

    So you approve of immoral acts because it is rumored, but not substantiated, that others did the same. Doesn’t speak well of your moral standards at all. Evidently any act can be acceptable if others had allegedly dome something like it before. You have no objective standards at all to speak of.

  • As usually, you are willing to excuse immorality in others, and to revile and slander the Clintons. I’ll quote psuddie again:

    Good to know you are perfectly OK with bad acts by our President because you think they can be excused by those ALLEGED BUT NOT SUBSTANTIATED IN ANY CREDIBLE FASHION of others. And yet Christian Fundamentalists use “moral relativism” as an epithet. Ha!

  • Gee, evangelical leaders and friends of Donnie being shown to be hypocrites? I’m shocked, shocked…

  • Blah, blah, blah. And all you progressive Christians voted for Slick Willy, the adulturer, womanizer and rapist. Pull the plank out of your own eyes first.

  • You stated ” the irony of all of this is that the religious-right brought about all the things is claimed the left would do. ”

    My hunch is that this is not irony at all; rather, when extremists (probably right or left) make false allegations or predictions about their enemies, they are in fact revealing a lot about themselves and their hopes or plans and the behavior of their organizations and themselves.

    This has certainly been true of almost all the allegations Pres. Sleazy has made about others.

  • People with actual ethics, appreciation of rule of law and moral standards. Nobody you would associate with.

  • You are saying all of this in approval of rape and womanizing.

    Good to know conservatives have no moral, ethical or legal standards to speak of. Get all that pretension out of the way.

  • We didn’t know he was an adulterer and a womanizer. And the rape allegation is simply that— an allegation from right wing websites. But if I had known that bill couldn’t keep it in his pants, I wouldn’t have voted for him.

    But we did know about Jabba the Trump in his Incarnation as Grabby McPussy before the election. Just as we knew about his multiple failures as a businessman, his failures to pay his contractors (its called theft, his lying on a daily basis, his reviling and slandering (they’re rapists!) his adultery and remarriages after his divorces. And oh evangelicals voted for him anyway.

    And since bill isn’t president, it isn’t exactly relevant to bring it up now. Evangelicals voted for Grabby anyway, and continue to excuse him.

    Whataboutism? So mature.

  • I see. Bill did it, so it’s ok For trump.

    I swear, you have to morals of a bible believing Christian.

  • That’s right. The atheist has no grounds in atheism to say this is wrong because atheism has no basis to call anything good or evil. Any moral act can be good in atheism.

  • How would you know?

    You make excuses for immoral and illegal behavior by saying its OK because others do it. The very concept of morality eludes you.

  • Sorry Spuddie, but Paula and Juanita and all the other female victims of the Clinton WWE Tag Team, apparently decided NOT to wait for your official proclamation of what is or is not “credible fashion”, before going public with all the sicko deeds of BOTH Willie and Hillary. Heh!!

    But I get it. You don’t wanna hear **their** stories. You don’t want to admit that Hillary’s rap sheet is as long as Trump’s rap sheet. You want — you need — one-sidedness. You want folks to pile on Trump and his Christians, but NOT pile on your weird little sweetiepie and HER Christians.

  • Sorry buddy but if you were remotely correct, Bill Clinton would not have finished 2 terms and Hillary would never have been elected to public office.

    The great thing about Clinton no longer being in office is I never have to give a crap what he has done to whom. It will never be relevant to what goes on right now. You missed your chance for anyone to care 20 years ago. Now it just shows how immoral and spineless you are now.

    Your postings show your reluctance to discuss the acts of the person currently in office and a tacit approval of them. No matter how bad they are. Since you are trying to say it was perfectly OK as long as others WERE RUMORED to have done the same. You are not describing a double standard. You are telling me you have no standards at all.

    ” You want folks to pile on Trump and his Christians, but NOT pile on your weird little sweetie-pie and HER Christian”

    Of course. TRUMP IS IN OFFICE NOW. I don’t need to discuss or debate history when the subject is current events. Your deflection is a sign of your immorality.

  • Just my life, and the lives of millions of people like me, the opinions of many Christians and Jews, and the opinions of actual medical and scientific associations.

  • Its interesting how quickly right wing support moved to moral relativism. Almost like their stand on “Christian morality” was never really about that at all…

  • At last! at last!

    You finally understand what we have been telling you for years. Atheism is not a system of morals, and doesn’t claim to be.

    Christianity is a system of morals, but it doesn’t seem to work very well.

    “Any moral act an be good in atheism.” You saidit.

  • Christianity’s influence in the world has done more to civilize it than any other institution or belief system in history. Its positive influence on culture is massive.

    It is true that an atheist could justify any moral action as good by atheism.

  • Your life is not a scientific fact that supports homosexuality as being natural or good. What medical science has shown is how dangerous and unhealthy homosexual sex is.

  • As I told you many times before, I have no diseases and run six minute miles at 67.

    Wanna have a race? we can just as soon as you leave your mom’s basement.

  • whine whine whine. yup Trump sucks and those supporting him have ethical shortcomings. But the other choice was evil personified so sorry not sorry I’ll vote for the crude ignorant white guy over satan’s daughter (or is that lover) every time. The Dems had it in their hands to provide an alternative, they chose not to.

  • Don’t need a moral compass if you are an atheist. Atheism provides no moral guidance to anyone. It’s morally bankrupt.

  • I have friends who are atheists. They are doctors, teachers, community members. They have loving relationships. If they are as demonic as you say, they’d be criminals. Religious fascists like you prove that believing in God doesn’t make you a good person.

  • Trump has had so many affairs he is a walking advertisement for blackmail. If that was ever an issue for BC, it is no longer, he’s not in office.

    What I don’t understand is why evangelicals are happy to be used. Trump doesn’t care about any of you but he’ll vote for judges you like simply to get your vote and take the heat off himself. A willingness to be bought is not a good look for you.

  • I don’t even understand what that means, “showed the way.” Did he recruit Trump into affairs with porn stars? Payoffs? Your comment is meaningless.

    If what you mean is that American have become tolerant of misbehavior, than you have the option of turning that around. Why don’t you?

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