On CNN last night, evangelist Franklin Graham argued that Donald Trump‘s alleged affair with a porn star wasn’t a deal-breaker for evangelical Christians because it “happened 11, 12, 13, 14 years ago… before he was in office.” As if Jesus said affairs are forgivable as long as you don’t have them while president.
Anchor Don Lemon then responded with a list of awful things Trump has done since taking office, and wouldn’t you know it, Graham didn’t seem to care about any of those things, either.
“These alleged affairs, they’re alleged with Trump, didn’t happen while he was in office,” Franklin Graham told CNN’s Don Lemon on “CNN Tonight” on Tuesday.
“This happened 11, 12, 13, 14 years ago,” he said. “And so, I think there is a big difference and not that we give anybody a pass, but we have to look at the timeline and that was before he was in office.”
“I believe Donald Trump is a good man,” he said. “He did everything wrong as a candidate and he won, and I don’t understand it. Other than I think God put him there.”
I had no idea God was Russian.
The point Lemon makes is a fair one, though, and it’s one the media should continue hammering: Is there anything Trump can do that will cause white evangelicals to abandon his side? Or will they rationalize anything and everything as long as Trump keeps nominating anti-abortion judges?
We’ve always known evangelicals are hypocrites, but every one of these interviews is a chance to show the country that the Religious Right is devoid of any moral high ground. Trump bragging about sexual assault? Calling predominantly black countries “shitholes”? Tearing apart families by deporting members? Making it more difficult for low income people to access affordable health care? Making the wealthy even wealthier?
Graham and his Christian colleagues don’t give a damn about any of it. So he’s lying when he tells you Trump’s affair doesn’t matter since it happened before he came into office since all the things Trump has done while in office don’t matter either. (Including the payment of hush money to Stormy Daniels.) As long as Trump keeps checking off other items on the evangelical wish list, his personal morality is the trade-off. It’s a Faustian bargain that white evangelicals gladly accept. And they’ll always accept it as long as the president has an R after his name.