Pastor Robert Jeffress, an evangelical adviser to Donald Trump, was on TV this week playing down the whole Stormy Daniels scandal. He kept telling us that while having an affair with a porn star was a sin, sure, but “whether this president violated that commandment or not is totally irrelevant to our support of him.”
It’s a line we’ve heard from many white evangelicals: Trump isn’t perfect. But we elected a president, not a pastor. As long as he delivers on our agenda, he’ll have our support.
But that’s not what Robert Jeffress was saying in 2008 when evangelical Christians were beginning to rally behind Mitt Romney for the Republican presidential nomination. Back then, Jeffress was calling out the hypocrisy of fellow evangelicals for saying all the same things he’s saying right now.
Right Wing Watch unearthed the clip:
“… some evangelical leaders… for the last eight years of the Bush administration, have been telling us how important it is to have an evangelical Christian in office who reads his Bible every day. And now, suddenly, the same leaders are telling us that a candidate’s faith really isn’t that important. In fact, one of those leaders — a good friend of mine — said on national television, when it came to supporting Mitt Romney, he said, ‘Well, after all, we are not electing a theologian in chief, we are electing a commander in chief.’ My fear is such a sudden U-turn is going to give people a case of voter whiplash. I think people have to decide, and Christian leaders have to decide once and for all, whether a candidate’s faith is really important.”
… “The danger in all of this discussion is that Christians sometimes are willing to sacrifice the temporal for the eternal, that in order to get their candidate elected, to enact those laws that they feel are crucial, somehow we fool ourselves into thinking we are going to bring about the kingdom of God here on earth. We are not going to do that. I’m not willing to trade people’s eternal destiny for some temporary change in the law.”
Jeffress said in the longer version of that video that Mormonism was a cult, and evangelicals were wrong to back a Mormon for president, even if he was a Republican. What mattered most, Jeffress claimed, was having a faithful Christian in the White House.
Today, when the man in the Oval Office is no role model for anybody, much less a Christian to look up to, Jeffress is one of his loudest champions. He’s all for temporary changes in the law that suit his agenda.
Eternal destiny can wait for another day, I guess.
Keep in mind that Jeffress didn’t give a damn about the president’s faith when Barack Obama was president. His Christianity never counted. But Trump’s faith, somehow, is acceptable to these supposedly pious hypocrites.