The Slow and Steady Decline of Evangelical Morality


Tony Perkins’s recent blog post at the Family Research Council is entitled “On Morals and Mulligans.” Here is a taste:

As I said when that footage was released in October to rationalize or excuse this type of behavior. But let’s also be realistic: Americans can only hold President Donald Trump accountable for what he does in office. We can’t do anything about the past. Americans may not like it, find it distasteful, and wish it hadn’t happened — but it did. Like any of us, he needs to own his failings and take responsibility for his actions. And in some of these cases, I believe he did. (Italics mine).

If we except Perkins’s problematic suggestion that we should only hold Trump accountable for what he does in office, then I have several follow-up questions:

  1.  Trump tried to cover-up the affair with $130,000 weeks before the election.  Should Trump be held accountable for this?
  2.  As I wrote two days ago:  How does a man who runs an organization committed to strong Christian families give Trump a pass on adultery?  Yes, it happened ten years ago, but does Perkins really believe that the fallout of such a revelation will have no effect on Trump’s family.  Does he think Melania should give Trump a pass because his adulterous affair with a porn star happened ten years ago?  Shouldn’t a so-called “family values” crusader be standing up for those hurt by Trump’s sins?  I could say the same thing about Roy Moore’s victims.  Why wasn’t the Family Research Council supporting these victims?
  3. What has happened to evangelical morality?  Trump should be held “accountable” for all kinds of things he has done in office: his racist comments, his arrogance, the crassness of his Twitter feed, his endless lies.  And we could go on.  There was a time when evangelicals thought officeholders needed to be called out for these things.  How low is the moral bar for people like Perkins and the rest of the court evangelicals?  (We will support Trump as long as he doesn’t cheat on his wife in the oval office with a porn star).

Perkins goes on:

As I said again on CNN Tuesday night, I was not an early supporter of Mr. Trump because of his past personal conduct. But, after the candidate I was supporting dropped out of the race, it became a choice between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton. So, I began communicating what I thought it would take for Mr. Trump to gain evangelical support. You may recall that we said he would: 1) need to commit to appointing pro-life judges, 2) choose a conservative pro-life, pro-family running-mate with a solid record, and 3) agree not to undermine or dilute the conservative GOP platform. To my amazement (and several others’), he not only met — but exceeded — the high bar we had set. No other Republican nominee had ever pledged to nominate “pro-life” judges. Mr. Trump put it in writing and released it to the nation.

Perkins, as you might expect, has a pretty firm grasp on the Christian right political playbook.  The playbook teaches him to elect a pro-life POTUS who will pick a pro-life running mate and support pro-life justices.

Hey Tony, how has this playbook been working for you and your predecessors over the last forty years?  You are fighting a losing battle.  In fact, you have probably lost the battle already. And I write this as a fellow evangelical.  Isn’t it time to develop a new playbook–perhaps a playbook that does not force you to trade your integrity and moral voice for a handful of federal judges?

Read Perkins’s entire piece here.