Do you think Trump has strong moral character?
· White evangelicals: 44%
· Atheists: 18% pic.twitter.com/FAfFPoVeUI
— Dan Diamond (@ddiamond) October 16, 2016
I do truly grasp why some evangelicals are supporting Trump. In many cases the core issue is perceived to be the empty seat within the Supreme Court, hence holding your nose and voting for Trump is deemed to be the best way of achieving the nomination of a conservative into that role.
However, this latest information goes way beyond all of that. The results of a poll find that as many as 44% of white evangelicals consider Trump to be an individual of strong moral character.
One immediate thought is basically … WTF!
What are these people smoking? Whatever it is, it appears to be highly effective at not only decoupling them from reality but also carries them off to Narnia.
It is not exactly a huge secret that he is a self-proclaimed sexual predator, who has not only had a string of failed marriages, but has also got a queue of women pointing the finger at him. That is all just the tip of the iceberg, we also have the xenophobia and rather blatant racism to add into the mix. Coming up soon on 13th December is the Trial in which he is alleged to have raped a 13 year old girl, and it is not just he said/she said, there are other witnesses. I’ve not even touched upon the observation that he is the most dishonest candidate ever, and that almost everything he says is demonstrated to be an outright lie. I’m really not making this up, Politifact has checked and finds that only 4% of what he says is true.
When challenged with such facts, some rather common evangelical justifications are as follows …
when we vote for president we are not voting for Pastor-in-Chief. Rather, we are voting for Commander-in-Chief. The qualifications for the two jobs are different. Further, Trump has expressed regret for offensive things he has said.
This is not simply about what he has said, it is also about what he has actually done, again and again and again (numerous women have come forward to confirm it). Why is anybody who has a long history of such behaviour deemed to be a “strong MORAL character”?
All the candidates engage in offensive activities, some more than others. Most evangelicals would not vote for any of them to be pastor of their church. But we are not voting for a pastor but for a politician
Nobody, and I really do mean nobody in the entire history of presidential candidates, has ever set the bar so low. The claim that such behaviour is just fine for a politician is not a moral stance, and you really do not need to be a professor of ethics to work that out. Rather ironically, the above claim was made by an evangelical professor of ethics, and that quite frankly tells me nothing at all about Trump, but instead tells me a great deal about the moral bankruptcy of evangelical ethics.
Is the Poll Credible?
We do need to ask ourselves this. Polls abound and many are of course meaningless because they are very easily manipulated. For example any on-line poll can be skewed by a small group voting many times.
The poll itself is a Washington Post-ABC News poll.
- That in turn is done by Langer Research Associates – They have a good reputation, have been doing such polls for over 20 years, and have won various awards along the way.
- The questions for the complete poll are here … search for the word “Moral”, pick the “Detailed view” option, then click “Race/Religion” from the “Show Results by” option.
- You can find the raw data here along with details of how they conducted the poll and how many participants it had.
- The Washington Post article that highlights the results of the poll is here.
Botton line .. yes, you can take this poll seriously.
This stance has a benefit
I’m more interested in the narrow finding that white evangelicals, long the loudest complainers about a corrosive, sexually liberal society, are suddenly the most likely religious group to believe that some hypothetical vulgar, handsy coastal perv—trying to think of a contemporary example here—can still discharge the duties of public office. Some might see this as hypocritical, which it is. But it’s also a pragmatic move from a cohort not known for its pragmatism.
.. We can all agree that after witnessing white evangelical Christians vote so resoundingly for Donald Trump, we never again need to take seriously any claims they have against a Democratic politician for being an insufficiently upstanding, God-fearing role model for children. They can never do that again. This is a good thing, for all parties.