Posted Aug 14, 2020 by Michael L. Brown

For the last 5 years we’ve heard a lot about evangelicals who identify as Never Trumpers, and they are often contrasted with so-called Always Trumpers. But does the latter class even exist? Is there a body of evangelical voters who will support Trump no matter what?

 We all remember candidate Trump’s infamous, tongue-in-cheek statement that, “I could stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot somebody, and I wouldn't lose any voters, OK? It's, like, incredible.”

An article posted on NPR after he made this comment cited the common response of many of Trump’s followers: “Yeah, sometimes he makes me cringe, but I still like him and I still think he's the right thing for America.”

This certainly speaks for many evangelical supporters of Trump who often cringe at things he says while applauding the things he does. But is there a line he could cross that would cost him their support?

His sordid past did not disqualify him in their eyes (or, if you’re an evangelical Trump supporter yourself, in your eyes). After all, people can change and God is forgiving, right?

The accusations of sexual impropriety, including allegations of sexual assault, did not disqualify him. After all, who knows if these accusations are true?

Even the release of the lewd Access Hollywood tape did not cause Trump to lose his evangelical base. After all, the tape was 10 years old. Plus he expressed regret for the comments and said he was not proud of them.

To be sure, evangelical leaders spoke out against the tape and made clear that, should Trump engage in that kind of talk or conduct today, they could not back him.

But has Trump really changed since he’s been in office? Has he become kinder, more restrained with his tongue, less inclined to lie and exaggerate, less prone to engage in petty insults and throw people under the bus?

If he has changed, the changes could hardly be called dramatic. Yet, going into 2020, his evangelical base seems strong. Does this, then, confirm the existence of Always Trumpers?

Certainly not. Every evangelical Trump supporter I know would drop his or her support for Trump in a heartbeat should he change his stance on the core issues.

Of course, I can’t speak for everyone. And I imagine there are some evangelicals who are so convinced that Trump is “God’s man” that he could stand on Fifth Avenue and shoot someone and they would justify it. But I honestly do not believe that “Always Trumpers” exist in the same way that “Never Trumpers” exist (even though I’ve used both terms over the months).

Prof. Wayne Grudem recently wrote that, “while the impeachment trial was going on, a younger faculty colleague asked me at lunch, ‘What would Trump have to do to make you stop supporting him?’ My response was something like this: ‘I would stop supporting him if he began to favor higher taxes, more government regulation, a weaker military, open borders, judges who believed in a “living Constitution,” extended abortion rights, restrictions on freedom of religion, hostility toward Israel.’ I didn’t finish the list because he said, “Okay, the question for you is policies. I get it.”

For me and many others like me, if Trump was pro-abortion, he would not have my vote. If Trump became an opponent of Israel rather than a friend (really, a great friend) of Israel, he would not have my vote. If Trump reversed his stance on religious liberties, becoming our opponent rather than our proponent, he would not have my vote. And if Trump were guilty of a sexual assault today or followed in the footsteps of President Bill Clinton, he would not have my vote.

As I documented in my new book Evangelicals at the Crossroads: Will We Pass the Trump Test?, when the president announced he was pulling our troops out of Syria, thereby endangering the Kurds, who had been our faithful allies, evangelical leaders raised their voices in public

An October 9, 2019 article in New York Magazine’s Intelligencer carried the headline, “Why Trump’s Evangelical Allies Are Enraged Over His Betrayal of the Kurds.” This was echoed by similar stories in major, leftwing news outlets including the New York Times and NPR.

The articles cited quotes from leaders like Pat Robertson, who warned that Trump could lose his mandate from heaven, and Franklin Graham, who publicly called for prayer for the Kurds. And, the Intelligencer article, written by Ed Kilgore, added, “Perhaps most strikingly, Christian Right journalist David Brody, co-author of a hagiographical ‘spiritual biography’ of Trump, retweeted this assessment by right-wing controversialist Erick Erickson: ‘President Trump has committed an egregious act of betrayal in what he is doing to the Kurds. Shame on him.’”

What if Trump had betrayed Israel? What then? Or what if he suddenly did an about face on abortion? Trump’s loyal supporters would urge him to repent, and if he did not do so, deeply and sincerely and quickly, he would immediately lose their vote.

In reality, then, it’s not hard to answer the question: What would Trump have to do to lose my support?

My question for those evangelicals who do not support him is this: What would he have to do to gain your support? And in light of the radically leftist policies of the Democrats, are you now willing to reconsider your position?

When I was working on Evangelicals at the Crossroads, I sent some of the chapters to an editor with a respected Christian publisher, asking him for his feedback. I knew he was a committed Christian, and I knew he was not a Trump supporter. And the chapters I sent him were not intended to be a polemic for Trump but rather to present the anti-Trump and pro-Trump arguments side by side.

To my pleasant surprise, he wrote back, “Michael... the most logical, clearly written rationale for voting for Trump in 2020 that I have read—and I read and listen widely (The Economist, NYT, WSJ, NPR, BBC, PBS, etc.). In fact, your position is so clear and well-stated that I believe I've just swung my legs over the fence-rail to Trump's side for November.”

He added, “PUBLISH THIS BOOK, brother! There are 10s of millions of Jesus-loving people like me across this nation!”

So, by laying out the argument for and against Trump, citing the positions of evangelical leaders with fairness and accuracy, the chapters pushed him to Trump’s side. How interesting!

On my end, I’m not endorsing Trump (although I plan to vote for him). But I am encouraging everyone to prayerfully consider the major choices we face.  

The stakes are very high, because of which it would be healthy to evaluate and even reevaluate the positions that you hold.

And if reading my new book influences you one way or the other, please do let me know, either here or with a review on Amazon.

To say it again: the stakes are very high.


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wayocross posted a comment · Oct 14, 2020
Your position of what would it take for me a "never Trumper" top accept Trump has a different answer than you expect. I am a solid pro-lifer and anti-abortion advocate. First of all there is not a majority of "pro-life AND anti-abortion" adherents in our country. Overturning Roe V Wade would not end abortion. And I don't know other than a campaign slogan if it would end the possibility for every Republican Congressmen's family. There's a host of moral issues that Republicans haven't addressed like cohabitation, sex trafficking, inequality, abuse of Eminent Domain, and unsound banking practices. Some of which you may not call moral issues. Just like conservative churches though to the Civil Rights Movement in the 60's. The reality is the government will never solve moral issues. They can solve access issues like equal housing and reform of Eminent Domain practices. But all the rest will change as sure as night and day and Republican and Democratic majorities. Take the issues that you you're adamant about and put them back in the hands of the Biblical church. And we can go back to "accessing character" in our politicians.
wayocross posted a comment · Oct 14, 2020
There are "Always Trumpers". They resonate with his personality. They are not Christians; and if they say they are they're mistaken. They believe white men are the most discriminated demographic in America. They hate POC and Jews. They think vulgarity is the sincerest form of expression. They disdain anyone who is not proud and forceful. They believe the MeToo movement is just a way to trap men. They don't believe any woman was ever forced into prostitution. And real men have more than one woman in their lives.