Evangelicals Pretend to Suddenly Discover How Awful Trump Is

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Donald Trump speaks at a political event, raising his hand out in front of him.

Evangelicals have long been a ruthless voting bloc in the United States, using their power to launch the careers of politicians and bend public policy in their favor. When Donald Trump came along, Evangelicals saw in him an opportunity to make the most radical and unpopular items on their agenda a reality.

Now that Trump is running for president again, though, they’re walking back their support—and they’ve decided to try to frame it as taking the moral high ground.

Mike Evans, a former member of Trump’s evangelical advisory board, recently sent an essay to The Washington Post claiming Trump “used” Evangelicals to win the 2016 presidential election.

“All of us knew that Trump had character flaws, but we considered our relationship with him transactional …. We wanted Supreme Court justices to overturn Roe v. Wade. We wanted his support of our biblical values. We all wanted his support for the State of Israel. Donald Trump indeed kept and exceeded his promises to us.”

In the letter, Evans claims to be “horrified” by Trump’s character.

“Donald Trump can’t save America. He can’t even save himself. He used us to win the White House. We had to close our mouths and eyes when he said things that horrified us …. I cannot do that anymore.”

The day after Trump announced his reelection bid, televangelist James Robison distanced himself from the former president at a meeting of the National Association of Christian Lawmakers. “It’s time for us to get together and pray and stop trying to destroy each other, and I make that loud and clearly heard to Mr. Trump,” Robison said, calling Trump a “little elementary schoolchild.”

So have Evangelicals seen the light? Do they finally care about how morally reprehensible their poster boy has always been? Have they decided to finally prioritize actual Christian values over naked bigotry and hate?

It’s not likely. The timing of their sudden and dramatic change of heart—right as Trump seeks to win the White House again—most likely indicates that they’ve simply found another candidate they plan to support. By bloviating about how they feel “used” and “horrified,” Evangelical leaders are signaling the course change to their base, which now has those leaders’ permission to claim that deep down, they knew how bad Trump was all along.

So who are Evangelicals supporting, if they’ve decided to abandon Trump? Right now, the most popular candidate among the Christian Right seems to be Florida governor Ron DeSantis, who has opposed efforts to halt the spread of Covid, supports Florida’s “don’t say gay” bill, and tried to create his own army of vigilantes.

God help us all.

(featured image: Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

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