Trump’s Popularity Prompts Soul Searching on Religious Right

Donald Trump speaks at a campaign rally in New Hamsphire (photo credit: Michael Vadon, CC BY-SA 2.0)
Donald Trump speaks at a campaign rally in New Hamsphire (photo credit: Michael Vadon, CC BY-SA 2.0)

With the Iowa Caucus less than two weeks away, Mashable reports that, “The religious right is trying to do what everyone else has failed to do: Stop Donald Trump.” And so too are other social conservatives. Most troubling, Donald Trump is leading with “values voters” even when he clearly doesn’t share their values. As the head of the Florida Family Policy Council, John Stemberger, put it:

Whether it’s public policy or personal morality, he’s all over the board and there’s an inherent untrustworthiness that comes with him. You’re talking with a man who’s bragged about sleeping with some of the most beautiful women in the world.

Baptist News concurs: “Trump candidacy will test evangelical voters.”

Other leaders on the religious right have weighed in as well. Rev. Robert Sirico, president of the Acton Institute for the Study of Religion admitted that: “frankly, I cannot figure out the alleged white-evangelical attraction to Trump.”  And on the C-SPAN program, “Washington Journal,” Russell Moore, the president of the SBC Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, said: “Now we’re in a situation where many evangelicals, or at least professing evangelicals, are saying character doesn’t matter when it comes to Donald Trump.”

Most people agree that Donald Trump has a talent to tap into voters’ frustration using his anti-establishment rhetoric. And many concede that there is no neat and tidy explanation that accounts for his rising popularity with Christian voters. Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, summed it well when he said that many evangelicals are simply “beaten down” by political correctness and that “now they see Donald Trump, who is taking on that same elitist politically correct mindset and not backing down. … They find common cause in this guy, even though he comes from a completely different world.”

Brittany Klein is the co-author of Jephthah’s Daughters: Innocent Casualties in the War for Family ‘Equality’ and serves on the board and academic council of the International Children’s Rights Institute.