One of the more interesting alliances of the 2016 election cycle was religious conservatives embracing businessman-turned-president Donald Trump.
Even after the release of his lewd comments about women, Liberty University President Jerry Falwell, Jr., and his like-minded religious conservatives kept backing their horse. Falwell’s ardent support has continued through the recent unrest in Charlottesville and concerns over Trump’s response to the event.
This marriage between political conservatives and their religious counterparts is nothing new. The Christian Coalition, founded by televangelist Pat Robertson and later led by strategist Ralph Reed, was a potent force in Republican politics in the 80s and 90s. Today the link between the hometown chapel and the halls of Congress remains closer than some think is proper or legal.
The reason for the connection makes sense since the GOP platform Trump espoused after his nomination fit in with their values, particularly when it comes to the family.
But President, whose use of Twitter as a weapon began in the campaign and continues to this day, seems to fly in the face of the values of charity and kindness that compels Evangelicals “to seek peace with all men on principles of righteousness,” as the Baptists have phrased it.
Toward that end, and perhaps in reflecting on their principle that Christians “should not resort to the civil power to carry on its work,” the Southern Baptist Convention recently took Trump to task for his response to Charlottesville.
Some will see this as a bold move for a group so tightly aligned with the Republican establishment, while others will decry the fact that such proclamations are about a year too late, as Trump’s bombastic approach seems not to have mellowed since he was sworn into office.
Either way, Evangelicals seemed to have discovered their voice, which may come in handy if the dreams of the pro-impeachment forces ever come to fruition. But the process of the faithful changing the government is not always easy for the change agents.
It will be curious to see if similar groups follow the Baptists’ lead and what impact that might have on the future of Trump’s presidency.