The fact that Donald Trump said in 2005 that he could grab women “by the —–” because he’s famous doesn’t seem to be changing how social conservative leaders feel about him.
Evangelicals who opposed him before still aren’t fans. And the ones in his camp aren’t phased by the recording. That’s because this isn’t about how much they like the brash billionaire; it’s about how unflinching they are in their opposition to Hillary Clinton.
“People of faith are voting on issues like who will protect unborn life, defund Planned Parenthood, defend religious liberty and oppose the Iran nuclear deal,” said Ralph Reed, who heads the Faith & Freedom Coalition. “A ten-year-old tape of a private conversation with a talk show host ranks low on their hierarchy of concerns.”
Robert Jeffress, the pastor of First Baptist Church in Dallas and a member of Trump’s Evangelical Executive Advisory Board, said the comments were “lewd, offensive, and indefensible.”
But, he added, he’s still voting Trump. He said he moderated a meeting between the candidate and Evangelical and Catholic leaders, and he was forthright about his hesitations about Trump’s moral
“I said at that time, with Trump sitting next to me, I would not necessarily choose this man to be my child’s Sunday School teacher,” Jeffress said. “But that’s not what this election is about.”
He added that he doesn’t think Hillary Clinton is morally superior to Trump.
“Here is a woman who lied to the families of the Benghazi victims, she destroyed 33,000 emails while under subpoena, and she’s attacked the women who attacked her husband,” he said. “The fact is we’re all sinners, we all need forgiveness, and God doesn’t grade people according to their level of sin.”
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SOURCE: The Daily Beast, Betsy Woodruff
The head of Donald Trump’s religious advisory board on Friday shrugged off incendiary comments made by the GOP presidential nominee a decade ago in which he bragged about being able to grope women.
“I’ve listened to the tape. My view is that people of faith are voting for president on issues like who will defend and protect unborn life, defund Planned Parenthood, grow the economy and create jobs, oppose the Iran nuclear deal,” Ralph Reed told CNN. “I think a 10-year-old tape of a private conversation with a TV talk show host ranks pretty low on their hierarchy of their concerns.”
Nearly 80% of white evangelical voters back Trump, according to a recent Pew Research Center.
Reed, chairman and founder of the Faith and Freedom Coalition, a Christian conservative non-profit, called the 11-year-old recordings “ancient” and said they do not change his view of the businessman at all.
“Everybody falls short of a standard of perfection but Donald Trump’s been married to Melania for 10,11, 12 years now,” he said. “And he has a great family and has a tremendous relationship with his children.”
“I think this case is ancient,” Reed added.
Reed is optimistic that this will not negatively impact those voters backing Trump.
“I think it’s already baked into the cake for most voters that Donald Trump is not a saint and Hillary Clinton is corrupt and not trustworthy,” he said. “Voters are voting based on that perception of the candidates.”
Voters are more concerned with more recent issues, like Hillary Clinton’s email use, Reed continued.
“I candidly think they’re a lot more concerned about Hillary Clinton deleting 33,000 emails and negligently handling classified material as America’s chief diplomat and her family soliciting contributions from foreign government.”
Other public evangelicals offered mixed opinions.
Christian conservative and “Duck Dynasty” star Phil Robertson, who has backed Trump, said evangelical leaders frustrated with Trump’s controversies need to “lighten up.”
“I would say they need to lighten up, start going out and preaching the gospel to different people, including Donald Trump, and give him some time to think about spiritual matters, and work with him, and not condemn anybody,” he told WABC radio host Rita Cosby.
But Russell Moore, president of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, the public policy arm of the Southern Baptist Convention, the nation’s largest Protestant denomination, tweeted comments from a column he wrote a year ago about Trump’s past behavior with women.
“His personal morality is clear, not because of tabloid exposés but because of his own boasts. His attitude toward women is that of a Bronze Age warlord,” Moore wrote last year. “What is surprising is that some self-identified evangelicals are telling pollsters they’re for Mr. Trump. Worse, some social conservative leaders are praising Mr. Trump for ‘telling it like it is.'”
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SOURCE: CNN, Eugene Scott and Ashley Killough
A tape of Donald Trump making extremely crude remarks about women is putting evangelical leaders who endorsed him in a tougher spot than almost anyone else in the Republican Party — and on Friday, two of the country’s most powerful Christian conservative leaders did not disavow him.
“Voters of faith are voting on issues like who will protect unborn life, defend religious freedom, create jobs, and oppose the Iran nuclear deal,” Faith and Freedom Coalition president Ralph Reed said in an email to BuzzFeed News. “Ten-year-old tapes of private conversation with a television talk show host rank very low on their hierarchy of concerns.”
Asked if he had any comment on the tape itself and if he was definitely standing by Trump, Reed said, “I think the statement is self explanatory.”
Tony Perkins, who leads the Family Research Council, also did not reject Trump in the wake of the revelations, but indicated that he doesn’t share Trump’s values.
“My personal support for Donald Trump has never been based upon shared values, it is based upon shared concerns about issues such as: justices on the Supreme Court that ignore the constitution, America’s continued vulnerability to Islamic terrorists and the systematic attack on religious liberty that we’ve seen in the last 7 1/2 years,” Perkins said in an email to BuzzFeed News.
The Washington Post published a video on Friday afternoon of Trump talking on a hot mic with Access Hollywood host Billy Bush in lewd terms about women, saying things such as “grab ’em by the —–” and “I moved on her like a b—-,” among other vulgar remarks.
The indefensible nature of the recording presents a dilemma for Republicans who have endorsed Trump, particularly those who have already made plain their disapproval of him, like Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, who is scheduled to appear with Trump at an event in Wisconsin tomorrow.
Most Christian conservative leaders initially supported Ted Cruz. But after becoming the nominee, Trump secured much of their support. Reed urged evangelicals to back Trump at his Road to Majority Conference in Washington in June, telling them, “Unlike a lot of our friends on the other side, we’re not looking for a political messiah, because we already have a Messiah” and “Different persons have different modes of excellence.” Perkins announced at the Republican National Convention in June that he would support Trump.
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SOURCE: Buzzfeed, Rosie Gray