Many are aware of Trump’s strong support among Evangelicals. Over 80% support him, a majority of whom “strongly support” the President. Despite his controversial behavior, Trump’s approval ratings have held steady and even increased in recent weeks among Evangelical Christians. Our reporter managed to get this exclusive interview with Reverend Robinson J. Duckworth, fictitious Evangelical theologian and head of the heretofore unknown, fake organization, “Evangelicals for Justice”:
FN: Thank you for agreeing to this interview, Reverend Duckworth.
RJD: I would do it only for Fox News, my favorite news outlet.
FN: Well this is Faux News, pronounced like Fox but not the same Fox News you are familiar with, but thanks for agreeing for the interview. My first question is why do so many Evangelicals support Trump.
RJD: Oh, I see. This is not Fox News? OK, I will answer your questions anyway. Since it is fake, it won’t make a difference.
We support him for many reasons. The first has to do with his assurance that he is pro life and will stand up for that. He has already shown that he is moving in that direction by his appointment of Gorsuch to the Supreme Court. You may not agree with us, but the sanctity of life is at the core of our faith and belief. Some time ago when the Evangelicals realized that if we wanted to effect real change in this country, we had to get involved in politics and take sides, we realized that every person we supported would not be perfect. But if he or she furthers the cause, it is worth it. So that is one reason, but there are a lot more.
FN: Such as?
RJD: Well, it’s also because of who he is and what he stands for. You know, his stand on immigration, jobs for Americans, being able to say “Merry Christmas” again instead of “Happy Holidays,” and bringing Jesus back into our public schools. It is a turn away from the secularization that has taken our country in the wrong direction.
FN: I have heard that some believe that he is the Second Coming of Christ.
RJD: Well, I believe that would be taking his popularity to the extreme. A few may say this because they believe he is living the holy life spelled out in the Bible. He is bringing the Kingdom of God to the Earth by being tough, strong, and uncompromising. He tells it like it is with no “political correctness,” and he wants to make America great again. He supports the NRA. Plus he hates the liberal elites. And you know the old saying, the enemy of my enemy is my friend. He is draining the swamp of these people, who many of us believe are arrogant and look down on us Evangelicals. And there is plenty in the Bible to support his stands on the issues and being tough.
FN: Where in the Bible?
RJD: There is a lot. For starters, Exodus 21:24. “An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth.” And Leviticus 24:19-22. “Broken bone for broken bone.” And Ecclesiastes 3:1-8. “There is a time to kill.” And in 1 Samuel, 15:3, “The Lord said, Attack the Amalekites and put to death all men, women, children and infants.” God also said in Deuteronomy 19:19-21, “Purge the evil among you and show no pity.” And that is exactly what Trump is trying to do.
FN: But with all due respect, Reverend Duckworth, those quotes are all from the Old Testament. Wasn’t Jesus all about loving your neighbor?
RJD: That is right, but it is the neighbor part that is key. He didn’t say love everyone. He did not say love the Chinese or Indians or Mexicans or even people in another town or place. Scholars have pointed this out. There was a reason he said neighbor.
FN: But isn’t there a lot of other stuff about love and kindness in the Bible?
RJD: Sure, but you have to put it in perspective. Jesus also said, Matthew 10:34, “Don’t imagine that I have come to bring peace to the Earth but a sword.” Trump is bringing a sword. Jesus said that in Matthew 10:34. So love is important, yes, but so is the sword, and these are the times we are in. The country is changing, we believe, for the worse. The sex and violence you see on TV and movies is everywhere. Families are fragile. Divorce is rampant. Same sex marriages are now the law. Church attendance in mainline churches is way down—not so much for us and there is good reason for that, thank God. We hold our ground. But things are just not going in the right direction and haven’t been for some time. Certainly not under Obama. And this may sound racist, but it is not, the complexion of our country is changing. We are becoming something different.
FN: Why do you say that this is not racist?
RJD: Because it isn’t. Many of our churches are integrated. We have lots of African Americans and Latinos. It is just that people feel uncomfortable with being so diverse that we lose our national identity.
FN: But what about Trump’s personal behavior? The alleged lies he tells, his three marriages and numerous affairs, the way he brags about groping women, the law suits against him filed by women, the alleged collusion with Russia in the elections, his questionable business dealings, and his unrelenting attack on the press?
RJD: We are all human, and everyone makes mistakes every now and then. We Evangelicals believe in forgiveness and redemption. Plus the fake news media makes too much of his behavior. That is why we try to limit what we watch and read and why Fox News is so important. The real Fox News. They tell the other side of the story that you won’t read about in the Washington Post or New York Times or see on CNN.
And the liberal Democrats are just as guilty of condoning personal failures. What about protesting Bill Clinton’s affairs? What about JFK and LBJ? I didn’t hear Democrats protesting their behavior. Humans are sinful. We all are, and for this we ask forgiveness. Look, I don’t like his tweets any more than you do, but this is just Trump being Trump. He can’t help it, and, frankly, we don’t let it bother us all that much.
FN: Are there any other reasons that you are supporting Trump?
JSP: Yes. I would like to return to the idea of the enemy of my enemy is my friend. The fact is that many Evangelicals have been hurting personally in this country for some time. Many who attend our churches have blue collar jobs, and most have seen stable or declining paychecks. Some have been unemployed. Most do not belong to country clubs or have Ivy League educations, live in million dollar homes, drive fancy cars, or take expensive vacations. Some do, of course, but we see ourselves mainly as common, God-fearing, ordinary people. The people running the government we believe have not taken us seriously and frankly that is why we have become political and why we are standing up for ordinary people.
The elite running the country have let us down. They have disrespected us. And it is not just the Democrats. In fact before Trump came into the picture, many of us were not even Republicans. Some of us voted for Obama for president twice and for Bernie in the 2016 primaries. And every Republican running against Trump in the primaries was also part of the elite. Trump was different. He was cut from a different cloth. It is the elite we have had it up to our ears with. Hillary was the essence of the elite. They are the swamp. Trump promised to drain the swamp, and that is what he is doing and that is why he remains so popular. As long as he makes the elite miserable and continues to upset the apple cart, he will continue to be popular among the Evangelicals.
FN: But Trump was born into wealth. He inherited millions from his father, used to ride in fancy cars with chauffeurs, went to an Ivy League school and has mansions in many places.
RJD: I know that it sounds contradictory, and I have trouble figuring this out myself. But really what it is about is this: The election was a choice between two people. One at least spoke the language that many of us understand. The other was Hillary Clinton. Need I say more?
FN: You don’t think you might have made a Faustian bargain—a bargain with the Devil? A bargain that this will come back to bite you? That maybe you have been duped? After all the only major legislation that has been passed is tax breaks geared mainly to the rich and super rich.
RJD: Only time will tell if he was the right choice. But right now we have one more vote on the Supreme Court to make abortion illegal and could wind up with two more pro life votes if Trump has six more years. Then, mission accomplished.
FN: So what is your vision of where the country is headed and how Trump will make America great again?
RJD: Well, I think it would be great if he could be our leader for a long time. Two terms is just not enough for a game changer like Trump. There is no telling what will happen after Trump, but I do believe he will be at least a two-term president.
But your question is more complicated—maybe even profound– than you realize. Perhaps you read in the news this weekend that according to a Gallop poll, over 40 percent of the U.S. population believe that life as we know it will come to an end before the year 2050. A very high percentage of Evangelicals believe this including me. Just look at the facts. Nuclear weapons are proliferating, and rogue countries like North Korea have them. There is no telling what is to come out of the talks with North Korea and no telling how long it will be before a terrorist group gets nukes. Then there are chemical and biological weapons. Also if the electric grid goes down, everything will come to a halt. And just think about how easy it would be to destroy the grid. And, of course, there is the environment and rising seas.
I know, you are going to say something like, ‘I thought you Evangelicals didn’t believe in climate change.’ Well, some don’t, but we aren’t stupid. Most do. Anyway take all of this and what do you think the chances are that something really big is going to go wrong? I believe we are actually approaching the End of Time and the end of the world as we know it. That is why there is something deeply spiritual about Trump. Some on the left might say he is God’s warning that we should wake up. Some on the right would say that God is giving us one last chance. As for me, I do not know what to make of all this, and this is one reason I get down on my knees every day and pray for forgiveness and redemption.
FN: On that chilling comment, Reverend, I will conclude the interview but will say this: perhaps there is not a totally impassible divide between Christians (and others) who see themselves as progressives and the Evangelicals who support Trump. Perhaps we all should get down on our knees and pray everyday the same prayer you are praying.