Back in July, Donald Trump landed an endorsement from Wayne Grudem, one of the most respected theologians in the evangelical community.
This weekend he lost it.
Following Trump’s most recent scandal—a leaked tape from nine years ago of him bragging about sexually assaulting women and getting away with it because he is a celebrity—Grudem has withdrawn his endorsement of Trump, saying, “I cannot commend Trump’s moral character, and I strongly urge him to withdraw from the election.”
In Grudem’s previous article—which he has requested removed from townhall.com—he called Donald Trump a “good candidate with flaws.” However, his stance has since changed. “His vulgar comments in 2005 about his sexual aggression and assaults against women were morally evil and revealed pride in conduct that violates God’s command, ‘You shall not commit adultery,'” Grudem stated.
Responding to previous criticisms that he was out of his depth in supporting Trump, Grudem acknowledged, “Some may criticize me for not discovering this material earlier, and I think they are right. I did not take the time to investigate earlier allegations in detail, and I now wish I had done so. If I had read or heard some of these materials earlier, I would not have written as positively as I did about Donald Trump.”
MANY EVANGELICAL LEADERS ARE DOUBLING DOWN THEIR SUPPORT OF TRUMP
While losing Grudem’s endorsement might be a sign of growing evangelical disgust with Trump, plenty of evangelical voices are sticking with him. Jerry Falwell Jr., president of Liberty University and Trump supporter since the primaries, said, “I think this whole videotape thing was planned, I think it was timed, I think it might have even been a conspiracy among the establishment Republicans who’ve known about it for weeks and who tried to time it to do the maximum damage to Donald Trump.” Falwell offered no evidence for why he believes this is the case.
Pastor, televangelist and long-time Trump backer Mark Burns tweeted, “God has forgiven him…so should you.” After last night’s debate, Burns also said God had answered his prayers by helping Trump win.
Amazing that almost only statements of re-affirmation of support for @realDonaldTrump today are from religious conservative leaders.
— Mark Halperin (@MarkHalperin) October 8, 2016
The mixed response in the evangelical community to Trump’s most recent controversy mirrors what is currently happening in the Republican Party. An unprecedented amount of Trump’s own party have withdrawn their support of him—most recently House Speaker Paul Ryan just this morning—but several, including Trump’s running mate and outspoken evangelical Christian Mike Pence, are sticking with him. Pence called being a Vice Presidential nominee his life’s “greatest honor” and suggested that no matter what Trump has done, Hillary Clinton’s actions are worse.
“Trump last night said very clearly that that was talk, not actions. And I believe him and I think the contrast between that and what the Clintons were involved in 20 years ago—the four women that were present last night—was pretty dramatic.”
This seems like a pretty good summary of most evangelical Trump supporters: Sure, Trump is a morally indefensible person, but Clinton is worse so stick with Trump.
However, Russell Moore, president of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Committee for the Southern Baptist Convention and long-time Trump antagonist, continues to say this approach as Christians is unacceptable.
In a scathing article in The Washington Post Moore claims that whatever ugliness is coming from this election, at least one thing good will occur: the final death of the “Moral Majority” from the ’80s and their willingness to compromise morality for political results.