Anti-LGBT activist Tony Perkins explained how conservative Christians like himself are able to overlook President Donald Trump's moral failings.
The Family Research Council president knows porn actress Stormy Daniels claims the president paid her $130,000 in hush money weeks before the 2016 election, and he's aware of Trump's long public track record of lewd and crude behavior, reported Politico Magazine.
But Perkins told the magazine's "Off Message" podcast that he's found a way to justify his support for a president who has spent 70 years violating the moral standards he espouses.
“We kind of gave him — ‘All right, you get a mulligan. You get a do-over here,’” Perkins said.
Perkins is able to overlook Trump's personal depravity because the president has signaled support for anti-LGBT and anti-abortion policies promoted by the Family Research Council and other right-wing Christian groups.
Evangelical Christians “were tired of being kicked around by Barack Obama and his leftists," Perkins said, "and I think they are finally glad that there’s somebody on the playground that is willing to punch the bully.”
Politico's Edward-Isaac Dovere asked whether that was consistent with Christ's teachings about turning the other cheek, and Perkins justified that, as well.
“You know, you only have two cheeks,” Perkins says. “Look, Christianity is not all about being a welcome mat which people can just stomp their feet on.”
Perkins said evangelical leaders believe Trump will enact their policy goals, even if he doesn't share their religious views, in exchange for their political loyalty.
“I don’t think this president is using evangelicals," Perkins said. "I think he genuinely enjoys the relationship that had developed. He has found, I think — and he’s a very transactional president. Trust is important to him. Loyalty is important to him, and I think in this transaction, he realizes, ‘Hey, these are people I can count on, because they don’t blow with the political winds.'"
He said Trump had "delivered" more than any other president of his lifetime, but Perkins singled out Secretary of State Rex Tillerson as a disappointment because he hadn't worked to halt liberal activism in other countries.
“We’re seeing Soros dollars being connected with USAID funds and they’re creating these pro-abortion, pro-communist groups in some cases, working to take down conservative governments,” Perkins said.
Perkins recognizes that Trump challenges the morals he tries to teach his five children, including a 10-year-old son, but he's found a way to explain away those concerns to his family.
“These things that are said about (Trump) bother him, and he is one of those people, like most people, looking for acceptance, not rejection," Perkins said. "That’s why his reference to the polls and stuff like that, and so when someone on TV, a talking head is saying things about him, his natural reaction is to respond, and I think that’s what he’s done with Twitter, and so, in terms of my family, my kids growing up in a Christian home, and as we talk about these things, there’s an understanding that he has a need, and he wants to be accepted, and these things that are said are hurtful.”