The list of Republicans either calling on Donald Trump to drop out or announcing they can’t vote for him is growing with every hour. It now includes Sen. John McCain, himself a former Republican presidential nominee. But it doesn’t include evangelical leaders.
In numerous stories, numerous evangelical leaders are sticking by Trump, despite his being caught bragging about sexually harassing women.
Former presidential candidate and congresswoman Michele Bachmann is voting for Trump, she tells MSNBC, dismissing his comments as “bad boy talk.” Bachmann blamed the Clinton campaign for the tape surfacing at all, further pointing the figure at the first out gay man to moderate a debate. “She wanted to make sure that Anderson Cooper or somebody in the audience brings this up,” said Bachmann, claiming her “experience” gives her insight that substitutes for evidence it was the Clinton campaign responsible.
Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council helped draft the Republican Party platform, and his group is so antigay that the Southern Poverty Law Center officially labeled it a “hate group.” But Perkins’ family values still let him vote for Trump.
“As I have made clear, my support for Donald Trump in the general election was never based upon shared values rather it was built upon shared concerns,” said Perkins in a statement, adding that Trump is “the one who will do the least damage to our freedoms.”
Gary Bauer has a section for “Traditional Marriage News” on the website for his American Values organization. And despite Trump caught saying he’d tried to have sex with a married woman, Bauer told Reuters that “I continue to support the Trump-Pence ticket" because "Hillary Clinton is committed to enacting policies that will erode religious liberty, promote abortion, make our country less safe, and leave our borders unprotected.”
Former presidential candidate and founder of Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day Mike Huckabee condemnded Trump’s comments but is still a supporter, saying on his website, “I also believe that people are capable of change and deserving of forgiveness. I certainly don’t condone what he said in what he thought was a private moment 11 years ago, but here’s a good reminder that in these times of ubiquitous microphones and cameras, there are no private moments.”
Here’s the notoriously antigay Ralph Reed of the Faith & Freedom Coalition writing on Facebook: “People of faith are voting in 2016 on critical issues like who will protect the unborn, defend religious freedom, appoint conservative judges, grow the economy, stand by Israel, and oppose the Iran nuclear deal, which Hillary Clinton helped to negotiate. Given the stakes on the election and the critical issues confronting our nation, an audiotape of an 11-year-old private conversation with an entertainment talk show host is unlikely to rank high on the hierarchy of their concerns.”
As executive director of the Christian Coalition, Reed was considered the face of the religious right during the ‘90s.
The Daily Beast caught up with Robert Jeffress, the extremely antigay leader of the First Baptist Church in Dallas. He’s still voting for Trump. “The fact is we’re all sinners,” he said, “we all need forgiveness, and God doesn’t grade people according to their level of sin.”
Extremist North Carolina pastor Franklin Graham hasn’t endorsed a candidate but came to Trump’s defense on Facebook.
“The crude comments made by Donald J. Trump more than 11 years ago cannot be defended,” he wrote. “But the godless progressive agenda of Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton likewise cannot be defended.”
Graham reminded conservatives why they should vote Trump — though it’s also a reminder to liberals to vote Clinton.
“There’s no question, Trump and Clinton scandals might be news for the moment,” he wrote, “but who they appoint to the Supreme Court will remake the fabric of our society for our children and our grandchildren, for generations to come.”