Recently, televangelist Kenneth Copeland admonished his viewers to vote—and, more specifically, to vote for the candidate who opposes abortion. Copeland inferred that anyone who doesn’t vote for Trump will be guilty of murder. “You’re going to be guilty of abomination of God, you’re going to be guilty for every baby that’s aborted from this election forward,” Copeland said.
The video containing Copeland’s message can be seen below, and was published by Right Wing Watch, an organization “dedicated to monitoring and exposing the activities and rhetoric of right-wing activists and organizations in order to expose their extreme agenda,” as stated on their website.
Copeland and his wife, Gloria, founded the Fort Worth, Texas-based Kenneth Copeland Ministries (KCM) in 1967. They started a weekly television broadcast in 1979. KCM, and Copeland in particular, is widely known for its “prosperity gospel” messages and healing ministry. KCM states their mission is to “teach Christians worldwide who they are in Christ Jesus and how to live a victorious life in their covenant rights and privileges.” In 2007, KCM came under scrutiny when they were involved in a Senate investigation regarding their tax-exempt status. It was decided the expenses involved with the private jet the ministry owns should not be considered tax exempt.
Copeland’s strong words come just days after the leaked tape of Trump that has split evangelicals right down the middle. Members of Trump’s evangelical advisory committee have continued to back him, with the exception of Harvest Bible Chapel’s James McDonald. In a statement shared with Christianity Today, McDonald describes Trump’s words from the leaked tape this way: “They are truly the kind of misogynistic trash that reveals a man to be lecherous and worthless—not the guy who gets politely ignored, but the guy who gets a punch in the head from worthy men who hear him talk that way about women.” McDonald is convinced Trump cannot win an evangelical endorsement unless there is real evidence of repentance over his behavior. Even the statement the Trump campaign released, in which Trump said he was sorry for his words, does not sound like true repentance to some evangelicals.
Plenty of Republicans in office, including Paul Ryan, have cut ties with Trump. So also have other influential evangelicals, like Wayne Grudem, who previously called Trump a “morally good choice.” Grudem’s endorsement withdrawal is pointed and doesn’t mince words. The well-known theologian says he regrets not doing his research on Trump’s character and urges Trump to “withdraw from the election.”
Copeland, however, who is also a member of Trump’s advisory committee, apparently continues to back him. Citing abortion as the main reason, Copeland compels viewers to vote or be in danger of being held accountable by God himself.
Other evangelical leaders, like Bible teacher Beth Moore, have not come out in so many words to urge people not to vote for Trump, but have made statements addressing the Republican candidate’s lack of respect for women, and lack of remorse over what many construe as the sexual assault and objectifying of women.
For supporters like Copeland, though, issues like abortion and the election of Supreme Court Justices trump the character flaws the Republican candidate displays.