It wasn’t a matter of polite disagreement. For Howard Phillips, evangelical support for a Republican presidential candidate could be a deep, deep betrayal.
“There are some people who would stick with the Republican Party if they nominated Judas,” the conservative activist once told Mother Jones. “And they would still call him Christian, and they would still call themselves Christian.”
Phillips died in 2013, but his words have new resonance in the age of Trump. Phillips, an evangelical convert, once instigated a civil war among his fellow Christian conservatives. He thought they were selling out their values, trading them in for political clout.
Today, when Religious Right leaders regularly make excuses for Trump and his aides’ most atrocious behavior, the same argument is made. The exit-poll statistic, that at least 80 percent of white evangelical voters cast their ballots for Donald Trump, has been cited again and again in bewilderment. Now that white evangelicals strongly support an adulterous casino mogul, it’s hard to imagine them ever breaking away from the GOP, for any reason. It wasn’t that long ago, though, when there was serious talk among some evangelicals about the need for a third party—a Religious-Right alternative to the Republicans…
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