For some of the president’s evangelical supporters, Trump’s occasional use of the word “goddamn” is a bridge too far, even for a president whose behavior they’ve grown accustomed to excusing as they fervently support his policies.
“I certainly do not condone taking the Lord’s name in vain. There is a whole commandment dedicated to prohibiting that,” said the Rev. Robert Jeffress, a Texas megachurch leader who is one of Trump’s most outspoken evangelical advisers and supporters. “I think it’s very offensive to use the Lord’s name in vain. I can take just about everything else, except that,” when it comes to off-color language.
…American culture tends to consider obscenities to be more taboo. An f-bomb sounds much more crude to most listeners than “hell” or “goddamn” or an exclamation of “Jesus Christ.”
“Theologically, that’s backwards,” said Karen Swallow Prior, an English professor at Liberty University, the conservative evangelical school in Virginia. “You can look at any culture and see what it values by its swear words. Whatever it is that it values most, those are the things that will have words related to them that are verboten.”
In other words, she said, Christians ought to hold the sacred in much higher esteem than the body or sex acts — and thus to care much more about words that demean the sacred.
…Jeffress said he hears from pastors and congregants in conservative parts of the country who are concerned about Trump’s language, including the insults he uses on Twitter. But the president is not losing their votes, the evangelical leader said.
“He enjoys a tremendous amount of support from people of faith not because of his language, but in spite of his language,” Jeffress said. “Most Americans did not oppose the salty language of General Patton. All they cared about was that he led us to victory. Many Christians believe we are in a war … for the culture, a war for the soul of America.”