Court evangelical Ralph Reed’s recent tweet says so much about how the Christian Right thinks about politics:
President Trump has made protecting the innocent unborn one of his top priorities. @realDonaldTrump becoming the 1st @POTUS to address the March for Life is dramatic proof he is a champion for life and richly deserves the support of pro-life & evangelical voters.
— Ralph Reed (@ralphreed) January 23, 2020
Earlier today Adam Schiff offered ten convincing reasons why Donald Trump “put himself first” in the Ukraine scandal. Donald Trump always puts himself first. To suggest, as Ralph Reed does, that “protecting the unborn” is one of Trump’s “top priorities” is not supported by the facts. Trump talks about “protecting the unborn” because it is politically expedient. Throughout his entire public life, Trump’s views on abortion have changed with the political winds. He did not become pro-life on abortion until he ran for president. You don’t get pro-life bona fides by showing up at the March for Life.
There is little evidence that Trump cares about human dignity after the baby leaves the womb. His policies on immigration, health care, guns, and the environment do not suggest a commitment to life.
I am often asked how the Christian Right can support a president of such immoral character and still sleep at night. The answer is abortion. The Christian Right privileges abortion over all other issues. It makes perfect sense that Reed thinks abortion is the primary reason conservative evangelicals should vote for Trump in 2020. Reed is a political operative. He knows his audience.
Of course it is certainly possible that a person could be pro-life on abortion, and even attend Saturday’s March on Life, and still conclude that Trump does not deserve the support of pro-life & evangelical voters. I know of several anti-Trump evangelicals who will be marching for life in Washington D.C. on Saturday.
Others might believe that Trump’s appointment of pro-life Supreme Court justices is a good thing, but not good enough to tolerate the rest of Trump’s immoral administration, both in terms of policy and presidential character.
Someone else might argue that overturning Roe v. Wade will do little to end abortion in America. They might wonder why millions and millions of dollars are spent on electing the right political candidates when the money could be used to reduce the number of abortions in ways that do not require the unsavory Christian Right pursuit of political power.
Reed knows only one political playbook. It is the one he helped write. It has proven to be a very effective. In 2016, it led the Christian Right into bed with Donald Trump. For at least a generation or two, evangelical Christianity will be associated less with its Gospel witness and acts of justice in the world and more with the corrupt and immoral presidency of Donald Trump. It is too early to tell how this will change evangelical Christianity, but I guarantee future historians will explain it to us.