By all rights, Hillary Clinton should be pounding Donald Trump into the floor in the presidential race. After all, the Donald has proven time and again that he is morally unfit to be president. So why is this race still at all close? Well, there’s a really big reason–the religious right. They’ve brainwashed a significant sector of the population into walking into the booth, voting straight Republican, and walking out. After all, they’ve been told for the better part of three decades that Democrats are baby-killing, gay-loving America-haters.
We got a lovely example of this thinking from one of the most prominent professors and theologians on the religious right, Wayne Grudem. In a column for the conservative news site Townhall, Grudem tries to make the case for why supporting Trump is, in his words, “a morally good choice.”
While Grudem’s name isn’t familiar even to most news junkies, he’s a heavy hitter in the evangelical world. He has written a number of books on theology, and has taught theology and ethics for almost four decades. He is also one of the strongest proponents of complementarianism–the view that God assigned leadership roles in the church to men and support roles to women.
In other words–when he speaks, a lot of fundies listen. Watch a speech he gave on pastors speaking about politics here.
Grudem admits he didn’t support Trump in the primary season, and actually attacked him at a February pastors’ conference. However, he now believes that Trump is “a good candidate with flaws.” However, Grudem doesn’t think that any of those flaws should disqualify Trump, and on balance he deserves evangelicals’ support because his policies would “do the most good for the nation” if he’s elected.
But then Grudem launches into what has become the boilerplate attack fundies have used against Democrats for as long as I’ve been alive. He believes that if you’re a born-again who doesn’t want to vote for Hillary, but can’t bring yourself to vote for Trump, you should ask yourself, “Can I in good conscience act in a way that helps Hillary Clinton win the presidency?” His answer? Voting for a third-party candidate could potentially be sinful.
“Under President Obama, a liberal federal government has seized more and more control over our lives. But this can change. This year we have an unusual opportunity to defeat Hillary Clinton and the pro-abortion, pro-gender-confusion, anti-religious liberty, tax-and-spend, big government liberalism that she champions. I believe that defeating that kind of liberalism would be a morally right action. Therefore I feel the force of the words of James: ‘Whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin’ (James 4:17).”
The rest of his article consists of boilerplate claims of why fundies should be scared of a Democrat in the White House. He argues that under Hillary, we would see judicial activism run amok–such as an attempt to find a right to abortion on demand along the same lines of the marriage equality decision. He also warns that Christians could face persecution merely for standing up for their beliefs. On the other hand, he reminds his readers, Trump has promised to appoint judges who would essentially be clones of Antonin Scalia.
I really have to wonder if Grudem has been paying attention to the news in the last few months. That’s the most benign explanation for why he thinks Trump is a “morally good choice” for president. If I’m reading this column right, Grudem thinks that it’s sinful not to support a candidate who plasters private cell phone numbers on social media, mocks the disabled, condones violence at his rallies, enters business ventures with proven con men, and openly calls for another country to conduct cyberespionage on his opponent.
While I am as Democratic as they come, if a Democrat had engaged in even ONE of these behaviors, he or she would lose my support. And Grudem thinks that we should overlook ALL of these flaws in the name of keeping Hillary out of the White House? Apparently so.
Grudem’s discussion of one of Trump’s more outrageous acts on the stump is even more revealing of how far he has his head buried in the sand. Grudem would have us believe that even though Trump drags his feet or outright refuses to “disown and rebuke the wrongful words and actions of some angry fringe supporters,” it shouldn’t disqualify him from the presidency.
Really, Wayne? You mean to tell me that even though Trump has remained silent when a number of Twitter trolls acting in his name have directed anti-Semitic bile at Jews–especially journalists–who speak out against him, it shouldn’t matter because he supports conservative values? Are you seriously saying that this kind of behavior is acceptable for a presidential candidate? I can’t even.
You may recall that William Barber brought down the house at the Democratic National Convention when he declared that using religion as a weapon is a sign that this nation has a “heart problem.” In case you missed it, watch here.
Undoubtedly, Barber had tone-deaf talk like Grudem’s column in mind. When someone who is unfit for office by any definition is considered a “morally good choice” just because he’s made the right clucking noises for the religious right, the only credible diagnosis is that there is a very serious heart problem.