Steamy photos and references to Trump’s own manhood don’t seem to phase the Christian right writes Carrie Weisman in AlterNet. Here is her article in full. Please read it. (I’m republishing it here with the permission of the author and AlterNet.)
From ‘Tiny Hands’ to Melania’s Nude Pics: What Do Trump’s Evangelical Supporters Make of the Sexual Quirks of His Campaign?
Remember when Donald Trump decided a presidential debate was a good platform to defend the size of his hands? “If they are small, something else must be small. I guarantee you there is no problem. I guarantee,” he announced to the 16.9 million people watching from home. He’s also made veiled comments about Fox News correspondent Megyn Kelly’s menstrual cycle, questioned Hilary Clinton’s ability to “satisfy” her husband, complimented his daughter’s figure on national television, and admitted he would date her if it weren’t for the blood ties. Most recently, the New York Post released nude photos of his wife Melania, one of her lying naked in bed with Scandinavian model Emma Eriksson and another of her holding a whip—an exciting addition to a strange series of events attached to the “Christian” candidate.
According to the Pew Research Center, 78 percent of white evangelical voters say they would vote for Trump if the election were held today. Trump is now armed with an evangelical executive advisory board, that includes James Dobson, former president of Focus on the Family, and Richard Land, the former president of the Ethics and Religious Liberties Commission. Both condemn homosexuality, oppose the distribution of pornography and neither seems likely to endorse a candidate whose wife posed nude for a sexy spread. But they did.
And that’s not the only inconsistency surrounding evangelical support for Donald Trump. Most evangelicals believe in the “sanctity of marriage.” Trump has been married three times. Most evangelicals denounce premarital and extramarital sex. In The Art of the Deal, Trump brags about sleeping with married women. His daughter Tiffany was conceived out of wedlock, a rather big no-no for evangelicals who believe that the Bible is the word of God. And when he appeared on Bloomberg’s “With All Due Respect,” Trump was asked to share his favorite Bible verse. He declined.
Ironically, the same day Melania’s photos surfaced, it was announced Trump had pledged that as president, he would make enforcing existing laws against pornography a top priority. He also promised to give “serious consideration” to appointing a Presidential Commission to “examine the harmful public health impact of Internet pornography on youth, families and the American culture.” But regarding his wife’s titillating photos, Trump said, “In Europe, pictures like this are very fashionable and very common.” The Trump campaign’s senior communications adviser Jason Miller told CNN, “They’re a celebration of the human body as art. Nothing to be embarrassed about with the photos. She’s a beautiful woman.”
It’s true that social mores surrounding sex are changing. But between North Carolina’s bathroom bill, new laws making it legal for doctors, psychologist and counselors to discriminate over sexual orientation, and the continuous assault on women’s reproductive rights, it seems like that shift hasn’t hit nearly hard enough.
So how will Trump’s evangelical supporters respond to the latest in a string of sexual themes attached to his campaign? If the past is any kind of indicator, it seems like they might just stomach it. Franklin Graham, son of evangelist Billy Graham, insists, “There’s no perfect person — there’s only one, and that’s the Lord Jesus Christ, but he’s not running for president of the United States.” Still, it’s hard not to wonder why some would side with a man who continues to demonstrate behavior so terribly at odds with their religious convictions. The answer, some suggest, might not have to do with religion at all.
Jonathon Meritt of the Atlantic notes, “Evangelicals are acutely aware of their waning cultural influence and shrinking share of the population. These religious leaders care about their principles, yes. But they care about something else even more: power.” He adds, “Many of them will risk everything to reclaim cultural and political control—even if that means defying their own beliefs.”
In his fascinating study of Trump’s mind in the Atlantic, Dan McAdams has another theory about Trump’s appeal to evangelicals, and it has nothing to do with sex:
An American strand of authoritarianism may help explain why the thrice-married, foul-mouthed Donald Trump should prove to be so attractive to white Christian evangelicals. As Jerry Falwell Jr. told the New York Times in February, “All the social issues—traditional family values, abortion—are moot if ISIS blows up some of our cities or if the borders are not fortified.” Rank-and-file evangelicals “are trying to save the country,” Falwell said. Being “saved” has a special resonance among evangelicals—saved from sin and damnation, of course, but also saved from the threats and impurities of a corrupt and dangerous world.
Of course, Trump doesn’t have the support of all evangelicals. Russell Moore, president of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission has been one of the GOP candidate’s most outspoken evangelical critics. Peter Wehner, senior fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center has said Trump’s attitude is “incompatible with Christianity.” In a post lamenting Trump’s treatment of evangelicals, one member of the Christian right concludes, “When the righteous are in authority and become great, the people rejoice. But when the wicked man rules, the people groan and sigh.” Proverbs 29:2 AMP.