Donald Trump continues to enjoy high support among Evangelical leaders and Americans who identify as Evangelical, but noted Christian author Michael W. Austin says it should be their duty to turn away and denounce the president.
In an essay published Easter Sunday in the New York Daily News, the professor of philosophy at Eastern Kentucky University and co-author of the book Being Good: Christian Virtues for Everyday Life, wrote that it is the duty of “good Christians” to denounce Trump and his behavior. Austin cited Trump’s alleged affairs with adult film star Stormy Daniels and Playboy model Karen McDougal, as well as the president’s tendency to mock political opponents on Twitter.
Austin went on to note Trump’s instances of racism, including his defense of white nationalists at Charlottesville.
Despite Trump’s very public transgressions, he continues to enjoy the support of many noted Evangelical leaders including Franklin Graham, Robert Jeffress, and Jerry Falwell Jr. Many of them have said publicly that Donald Trump receives a “pass” for behavior that took place in the past, but Austin said those un-Christian behaviors continue.
Support for Donald Trump has transferred from Evangelical leaders to congregants as well. A Pew Research poll late last year found that 61 percent of Evangelicals supported Trump, among his best demographics.
But Austin said these Evangelical Americans — and especially Evangelical leaders — should not be making excuses for Donald Trump’s behavior and it is their duty to denounce his behaviors.
“To simply dismiss this as irrelevant to the character and actions of a President is, from a Christian point of view, unthinkable. And, contrary to what Graham claims, it is not only pastors who are to exemplify sound character. Christians should not exempt large parts of personal and political life from the moral implications of the gospel.”
Trump has also broken from predecessors Barack Obama and George W. Bush, who regularly attended church services. Trump has not attended a regular church service since taking office, the Hill noted, though has shown up on some occasions including the National Day of Prayer and a service just after taking office.
Despite the still-high numbers, there could be signs that Donald Trump is losing standing among Evangelicals. The Pew Research poll last year, while it turned in high numbers for Trump, showed a drop of 17 percentage points from a previous poll, when Trump’s support was at 78 percent.