The Christian Broadcasting Network’s David Brody wants to tell you why evangelicals like Donald Trump. It’s a good try, but it’s not very convincing.
Brody has spent many years interviewing presidential candidates, pressing them for answers on evangelical hot button issues—abortion, same-sex marriage, religious liberty. His program and his blog are the go-to place for finding out where the candidates stand, and what they will say when they know they are speaking directly to an evangelical audience.
I would have expected Brody to write a post telling us why evangelicals don’t like Trump: his glib formulation of forgiveness, his reference to “my little cracker” (that would be communion), and perhaps some of the reasons Russell Moore and Samuel Rodriguez laid out the other day when they critiqued him in the Wall Street Journal. They took aim not just at his anti-immigrant diatribe, but at his weak stances on their key issues.
In the service of explaining what there is of an evangelical attraction to Trump (and, as I wrote earlier this week, it is there, although by no means a majority), Brody portrays Trump as a no-holds-barred honest broker and, therefore, victim of the media. That’s why, he says, evangelicals can relate.
“Donald Trump operates in a world of absolutes,” Brody writes. “A world of right and wrong; a world of winners (him) and losers (McCain, Perry, etc); a world of put up or shut up (literally).”
“And what does Trump get for speaking out so boldly without holding back?” Brody asks. “Public ridicule.”
Evangelicals, Brody contends, can commiserate with poor Donald Trump:
Now, think of conservative evangelicals. In their quest to champion biblical values, their mindset is much the same. It is a world of absolutes. They believe the Bible to be the inerrant word of God. Non-negotiable. They believe there is only one way to heaven and that is through a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. Non-negotiable. They see the world through the lens of spiritual warfare (good vs. evil). And what do evangelicals get for speaking out so boldly without holding back? That’s right: public ridicule.
That’s a pretty thin argument for an evangelical-Trump bond. Trump’s non-negotiables begin and end with Donald Trump. Not the Bible. Not God. Not Jesus. To compare the non-negotiable of Donald Trump’s ego with, say, divine infallibility or the trinity is a bit of an apostasy, is it not?
What’s more, the “public ridicule” of Donald Trump is not because he is “speaking out so boldly.” It’s because he’s injected a narcissistic circus into the presidential campaign, kept alive only because he has more money than he knows what to do with, and he’s not afraid to bully anyone with it. Is that the comparison to evangelicals that Brody really wants to draw?
Brody rips into previous Republican candidates who he says sold evangelicals a bill of goods, taking aim at the 2004 George W. Bush reelection campaign, during which the “Federal Marriage Amendment was trumped up as the big thing and there was a concerted effort to attract evangelicals to the polls on this issue.” But, Brody laments, “we find out later that the guy who orchestrated the whole thing, campaign manager Ken Mehlman was a homosexual who really didn’t believe in the whole effort but it sure was good for political business.”
To seal the deal, Brody has some breaking news: Trump is for a 20-week abortion ban. He’s for defunding Planned Parenthood. Sure, he used to be pro-choice, but he changed his mind on that in 2011—when he was running for president.
What was that Brody wrote about that “homosexual” Mehlman? That he “really didn’t believe in the whole effort but it sure was good for political business?”