Check out Alex Morris’s Rolling Stone essay “False Idol–Why the Christian Right Worships Donald Trump.” Morris talked to a lot of the right people, including commentators Greg Thornbury, Randall Balmer, Peter Montgomery, Charles Marsh, and Diana Butler Bass and court evangelicals Robert Jeffress and Eric Metaxas.
The most telling part of her piece is her description of a conversation with her pro-Trump evangelical mother. Here is a taste:
In a dimly lit room, with a bottle of red wine, my mom, my aunt, and I pull our chairs close. I explain that I’m taping our conversation, that I love and respect them, and that I want to discuss why my Christianity has led me away from Trump and theirs has led them to him.
For a while, we just hit the typical talking points. There’s some discussion of Trump being a baby Christian, some assertions that the lewd behavior of his past is behind him, that in office he would never actually conduct himself as Bill Clinton had. But when I really double down, my mom and aunt will admit that there are flaws in his character. Though not that those flaws should be disqualifying.
“I don’t think he’s godly, Alex,” my aunt tells me. “I just think he stands up for Christians. Trump’s a fighter. He’s done more for the Christian right than Reagan or Bush. I’m just so thankful we’ve got somebody that’s saying Christians have rights too.”
But what about the rights and needs of others, I wonder. “Do you understand why someone could be called by their faith to vote against a party that separates families?”
“That’s a big sounding board, but I don’t think that is the issue,” says my mom.
“But it’s happening, and I’m not OK with it.”
My mom shakes her head. “No one’s OK with it.”
“If that’s your heart, then vote your heart,” says my aunt. “But with the abortion issue and the gay-rights issue, Trump’s on biblical ground with his views. I appreciate that about him.”
“As Christians, do you feel like you’re under attack in this country?” I ask.
“Yes,” my mom says adamantly.
“When did you start feeling that way?”
“The day that Obama put the rainbow colors in the White House was a sad day for America,” my aunt replies. “That was a slap in God’s face. Abortion was a slap in his face, and here we’ve killed 60 million babies since 1973. I believe we’re going to be judged. I believe we are being judged.”
Read the entire piece here. Morris’s conversation with her family is almost identical to some of my conversations with Trump supporters over the past several years.