Tony Perkins, Franklin Graham, and Presidential Moral Authority
Some evangelical leaders are giving President Donald Trump another passing grade on his moral authority. This is despite reports of his extramarital sexual relationship with porn star Stormy Daniels.
Tony Perkins (leader of the Family Research Council) told Politico that President Trump gets a “mulligan”. Franklin Graham (CEO of both Samaritan’s Purse and Billy Graham Evangelistic Association) states that Trump is not “President Perfect.”
Both are pushing back against a report by the Wall Street Journal about a $130,000 payment for Daniel’s silence about the affair.
They both use moral gymnastics to justify supporting this president. Former Family Research Council President Gary Bauer argued against Democratic President Bill Clinton when he had an affair with Monica Lewinsky. (Al Mohler has said that those who support Donald Trump should give Bill Clinton an apology.)
Billy Graham (Franklin Graham’s father) supported Republican Mitt Romney – a Mormon, and not an evangelical Christian – for president. Franklin Graham challenged Obama’s Christian faith again and again (and was rightly criticized for doing so).
One of the problems is the clear double standard, as others have noted. Ironically. these evangelical leaders would be dismissed from their respective positions if they had engaged in similar behavior as Donald Trump. Christian leaders who expect integrity from their own leadership should also expect that same integrity in their political leadership. The latest justification to support President Trump reflects more of the degrading morality of evangelical Christians and their leaders. In the past, evangelical leaders were proud to support clear Christian leaders who supported Christian values.
The problem with the present support of Republican leaders is that when these political leaders fail, it becomes difficult to support them. Supporting these political leaders for other reasons than character diminishes the power that these evangelical leaders can exert in other truly important moral issues. Soon, the public will simply stop listening to evangelical leaders in these other matters. When it comes to the Christian faith, moral authority matters.
You can read more views about “Stormygate” from other Patheos writers: