Prominent professing evangelical leaders are divided on whether or not Christians should turn from Trump and vote third party or write-in following the release of a 2005 video in which Trump bragged about allegedly sexually assaulting women and attempting to have sexual relations with a married woman.
James Dobson of Focus on the Family said in a statement on Tuesday that while he agreed the tape was terrible, it wasn’t enough to make him change his mind, citing the “cast the first stone” clause from the biblical account of the woman caught in adultery.
“First, I do not condone nor defend Donald Trump’s terrible comments made 11 years ago. They are indefensible and awful,” he said. “I’m sure there are other misdeeds in his past, although as Jesus said, ‘Let him who is without sin cast the first stone.'”
“I am, however, more concerned about America’s future than Donald Trump’s past,” Dobson said. “To my knowledge, Donald Trump has never abused women physically or had [sexual relations] the Oval Office with a vulnerable intern. Nor has he committed perjury by lying to Congress for many hours. Clinton, on the other hand, lost his license to practice law for that criminal act. Trump hasn’t been impeached by Congress for his lies.”
Robert Jeffress, who leads First Baptist Church of Dallas, made similar remarks, asserting that America is not electing a minister.
“It was lewd, obscene, indefensible—but not enough to make me want to vote for Hillary Clinton,” he told the Wall Street Journal. “I might not choose this man to be a Sunday school teacher at my church, but that’s not what this election is about.”
But Wayne Grudem, professor of Theology and Biblical Studies at Phoenix Seminary, withdrew his endorsement of Trump following the release of the video and after reviewing sexually-charged remarks made on the Howard Stern Show. He noted that he couldn’t vote for Clinton either and wasn’t sure what to do.
“There is no morally good presidential candidate in this election. I previously called Donald Trump a ‘good candidate with flaws’ and a ‘flawed candidate,’ but I now regret that I did not more strongly condemn his moral character,” Grudem wrote for Town Hall on Sunday.
“Some Christian friends tell me they can’t vote for either candidate, because they think that voting for either one is compromising with evil. …. I respect that argument, and because of it I am not now sure who I am going to vote for,” he said. “But if we are to pray for good government, shouldn’t we also vote for good government when we have opportunity? Therefore I am deeply reluctant to simply walk away from the process in disgust, or vote for a write-in candidate in order to register a protest against both parties.”
Albert Mohler, president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, opined that it has been embarrassing to observe Christians continuing to defend Trump as he believes it is harmful to their witness to the world.
“Far too many evangelicals have set themselves up for a humiliating embarrassment by serving as apologists for Donald Trump,” he told the Wall Street Journal. “The moral credibility of evangelical Christians is on the line, and it is of far greater value than any election.”
“In the course of just one generation, evangelicals have gone from thinking too little about about politics to thinking that an election is worth sacrificing our moral credibility. That is far too high a price to pay,” Mohler wrote. “There is still some time for some of those leaders to realize what is at stake. I can only hope.”