One of Donald Trump’s most prominent Christian supporters will argue in a book due out before the 2020 general election that American evangelicals “have a moral obligation to enthusiastically back” the president.
The book’s author, Faith and Freedom Coalition founder Ralph Reed, became a loyal foot soldier for Trump immediately after he nabbed the Republican presidential nomination in 2016 — commanding hordes of white evangelical voters from his perch on the candidate’s religious advisory board to trust that the New York businessman would grow the economy, defend religious freedom and dismantle federal protections for abortion, if elected.
According to the book’s description, obtained by POLITICO, the original title for the book was “Render to God and Trump,” a reference to the well-known biblical verse, “Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s.” The message from Jesus in Matthew 22, has been used in contemporary politics to justify obedience to government — or in the case of Reed’s book, to Trump.
Regnery Publishing confirmed the book’s existence but said the title is “For God and Country: The Christian case for Trump.” The publisher declined to comment on the reason for the title change.
In his book, Reed will “persuasively” argue evangelicals have a duty to defend the incumbent Republican leader against “the stridently anti-Christian, anti-Semitic, and pro-abortion agenda of the progressive left,” according to the description.
He will also rebut claims by religious and nonreligious critics that white evangelical Protestants “revealed themselves to be political prostitutes and hypocrites” by overwhelmingly backing Trump, a twice-divorced, admitted philanderer, in 2016.
“Critics charge that evangelical Trump supporters … have so thoroughly compromised their witness that they are now disqualified from speaking out on moral issues in the future,” the description reads.
Reed, who once said Trump’s comments about women in the leaked “Access Hollywood” tape were low on his “hierarchy of concerns,” belongs to an informal group of evangelical leaders — including Franklin Graham, Jerry Falwell Jr., Robert Jeffress and Paula White — who have become some of the president’s most devoted fans and vocal defenders since he took office. They have cast his foray into politics as divinely inspired; equated him to biblical figures such as Esther, an Old Testament heroine; and frequently cited Scripture to rationalize his most controversial policies — actions that other religious scholars and leaders have found particularly cringeworthy.
“I think evangelical efforts would be far better spent critiquing their own shortcomings than sanctifying a president,” said Matthew Rowley, a research associate with the Cambridge Institute on Religion and International Studies at Clare College.
For his part, Trump has inspired loyalty among his white evangelical base by positioning himself as a warrior against the secular culture they fear. He’s frequently appeared at conferences hosted by conservative Christian groups, including the “Road to Majority” summit put on by Reed’s organization each summer; strengthened conscience protections for religious Americans in the labor force; nominated dozens of socially conservative judges for lifetime federal appointments; and fervently supported Israel.
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