CultureFeb 27, 2018 by Alyssa Duvall
In a thoughtful editorial for the New York Times opinion column, author David Brody makes the considerable claim that, though an unlikely pick and not one without flaws, Donald Trump is the American evangelical's president.
"How could evangelicals get behind a man like Mr. Trump, especially well-known conservative leaders who both treasure and champion morality?" Brody asks, heading off the reflexive arguments against Trump's character. "Constant news reports paint a picture of an out-of-control, angry, mentally unstable, reckless president who is prejudiced against all of humanity except white people with modest incomes and out-of-date values. But after interviewing scores of evangelical leaders, I have developed a different perspective."
While the public has access to its president via news stories, public addresses, and his seemingly endless Twitter rants, evangelical leaders who have grown close to Trump have seen, they say, a more compassionate side.
"For example," Brody explains, "Mr. Trump took a car ride with Mike Pence along with Billy Graham’s son Franklin and Tony Perkins, a leading figure on the Christian right, during the Louisiana floods of 2016. Impressed by what Franklin Graham’s Christian ministry had done for flood victims, Mr. Trump told him that he was writing it a six-figure check, which Mr. Graham told him to send to Mr. Perkins’s church. Both men were moved by his impulsive kindness, and a bond was formed."
While noting the obvious criticism that the evangelical-Trump relationship is transactional and seeks primarily to further an agenda, Brody explains that evangelicals instead afford the president grace, even when he doesn’t deserve it: "Few dispute that Mr. Trump may need a little more grace than others. But evangelicals truly do believe that all people are flawed, and yet Christ offers them grace. Shouldn’t they do the same for the president?"
"This is more than a biblical mandate," Brody continues. "The Bible is replete with examples of flawed individuals being used to accomplish God’s will." And, like Daniel to Nebuchadnezzar, the president's evangelical advisors have a "civic obligation to speak godly counsel to him, on policy and personal matters. He is, after all, the president."
Their counsel, Brody says, is paying off: "Why in the world wouldn’t evangelicals get behind and support a man who not only is in line with most of their agenda but also has delivered time and time again? The victories are numerous: the courts, pro-life policies, the coming Embassy in Jerusalem and religious liberty issues, just to name a few."
"Evangelicals have found their man," Brody concludes. "It may seem mystifying to outsiders, but for someone like me, with a front-row seat to an inside view, it makes perfect sense. Maybe they’re taking their cue from Billy Graham, embracing presidents with moral failings rather than rejecting them."
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