2016 keeps on 2016-ing. On Friday, the Washington Post released a damning tape of Donald Trump and Billy Bush holding a lewd conversation about women. This elicited visceral responses, and rightly so, from both sides of the aisle who have struggled for months with the vulgarity of the Trump campaign. Yet some, including members of the “Religious Right,” didn’t seem to mind.
The outrage on the left is natural and across the board. The outrage from the right falls on a spectrum. Those in the #NeverTrump camp already think so little of Trump this doesn’t change much. Some didn’t exactly join the #NeverTrump camp, but some, such as Rep. Jason Chaffetz and Sen. John McCain rescinded their endorsements. Others like Paul Ryan condemned his words and cancelled public appearances with Trump on the campaign trail.
Then, there are those that called for forgiveness and continued support. In a normal world where things make sense, one would assume this group would not include some of America’s top evangelical leaders. It is a given that they ought to call for forgiveness. Full-fledged support is another matter entirely, especially without repentance.
And yet, we have men like Jerry Falwell Jr., James Dobson, and Pat Robertson. All three declared that they would continue to support Trump despite how he talks about God’s created beings. Falwell, son of Jerry Falwell Sr. who founded the ‘Moral Majority’, serves as the chancellor of Liberty University. Dobson presides over Focus on the Family, which argues against most of what Trump has stood for and certainly against the comments made in the video. Robertson is a former Southern Baptist minister and former presidential candidate; he thought the comments were “macho.”
Thankfully, there are many American religious leaders who have not caved to Trumpian morals. Protestants, Roman Catholics, Jews, Muslims and others are all represented among those publicly opposing such awful behavior.
It is a shame that our rich religious tradition has come to this, but when our religious beliefs become so intertwined with our desire for political gain – this is what you get. Falwell, Dobson, and Robertson now stand as those who failed to separate the two and have ruined both the religious and conservative witness because of it.